£36m in benefits going unclaimed every year in Falkirk

The full extent of the level of benefit going unclaimed in Falkirk has been revealed.

Around £36 million of benefits go unclaimed every year – and people are being urged to check if they might be eligible for more help than they realise.

This includes a whole range of benefits from working tax credits, child tax credit and pension credits to housing benefit and income support.

As an example, the figures show that just six out of ten people who are entitled to pension credit actually claim them.

Huge amounts of benefits are not being claimed

That’s why during Challenge Poverty Week – a national campaign that aims to challenge some of the stereotypes around poverty – Falkirk Council wants to raise awareness of the help that is available for those who are really struggling.

A good place to start is its website.

Sally Buchanan, Fairer Falkirk manager, said “We want to use Challenge Poverty Week to raise awareness of poverty and let people know there is help and support out there that can make life better.

“We can help you check that you are getting the benefits you’re entitled to, we can help with debt advice.

“There are council services, there’s CAB and there are other support agencies and we’re all here to help so if someone is sat there struggling, the message is get in touch.”

Falkirk Council’s website has an online benefits calculator as well as a map that shows you what is available in the area.

You can also order period products free of charge and have them delivered.

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“That’s the sort of thing that could take just a little bit of pressure off a family’s finances,” said Sally.

With 6980 children living in poverty in the Falkirk area – a quarter of all children who live in the district – they know that many families would welcome more help.

“There is help out there so if you know friends or family who are struggling, please encourage them to take up some support.

“Have a look online or speak to someone about it and they might be able to help.”

The reasons for such a large sum going unclaimed are complicated: some people may not be aware, others may not want the stigma of claiming benefit, while for others the paperwork can be extremely difficult.

This Challenge Poverty Week coincides with the removal of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit and the ending of the furlough scheme, both of which will almost certainly have a major impact on people’s finances.

In August of this year, 27,300 people were on furlough in the Falkirk area and as the scheme comes to an end, the question is how many will lose the jobs they are furloughed from.

These things, along with rising food and energy prices, could mean some challenging months ahead.

Sally’s message is to remind everyone that help is out there and she would encourage everyone to have a look at Falkirk Council’s website, while face to face advice support is available in the hubs for those who can’t get online.

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