During Benefits Awareness Month poverty charity Turn2us is urging families living in poverty to check its benefits calculator
What’s the campaign called?
Benefits Awareness Month.
What’s the point?
Benefits Awareness Month is an annual campaign held by Turn2us that runs throughout April. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the many welfare benefits available and encourages people in financial need to check their welfare entitlements using the free and confidential Benefits Calculator at www.turn2us.org.uk.
Why should we care?
There are 13.5 million people in the UK living below the poverty line, yet of these only 5.4 million are claiming state support, with a staggering £19.1 billion in welfare benefits going unclaimed every year. A survey we conducted recently revealed that many of those who could be in most need of financial help hold worryingly negative perceptions of benefits claimants. For example, only a fifth (20 per cent) of people on low incomes believe that those claiming have the right to do so, and over one in eight (13 per cent) revealed they would rather cut back on essentials such as food than claim. Furthermore, almost a third (32 per cent) felt that those claiming have experienced some misfortune, suggesting they could be unaware of in-work benefits that exist to top-up low incomes. Changing these perceptions could lead to significant improvements in peoples’ lives. The average annual uplift in previously unclaimed benefits for an individual who has used Turn2us is £3,322 – additional income that could help cover food for the table or heating bills to keep warm through the winter. At Turn2us, we believe that more needs to be done to increase awareness of welfare benefits available- especially at a time of major welfare reform. Benefits Awareness Month aims to highlight welfare support available and also tackle some of the stigmas around claiming assistance.
Who else cares?
Benefits Awareness Month is supported by a number of other charitable organisations across the UK who are spreading the word about the help available for people in financial need and how they can access it.
Who are you targeting?
We are calling out to all individuals and families on low and limited incomes to overcome perceived stigmas and check their potential entitlements to welfare benefits. Benefits Awareness Month is an opportunity to acknowledge the struggles of an increasing number of households being affected by the current economic climate, including those who never expected to face this level of financial difficulty.
What would a better world look like?
At Turn2us, we imagine a kinder world in which people are more understanding and tolerant of the fact that anyone can find themselves up against hard times at any point in their lives. We imagine a world in which people don’t feel so ashamed to ask for help that they go without the basics for fear of being treated with distrust or suspicion. We hope that by continuing to publicise issues surrounding welfare benefits we can not only raise greater awareness of the many options available, but also amend the stigmas and stereotypes that prevent so many from claiming.
What can we do?
Keep an eye out for any friends or relatives who are struggling to make ends meet and encourage them to visit our free and confidential Benefits Calculator to see what they’re entitled to at www.turn2us.org.uk. If you are struggling financially, remember that you don’t have to be unemployed to be entitled to benefits; there are so many reasons why people get help. For example, you could be on a low income, retired, bringing up children, ill, have a disability or be someone’s carer.