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More than £16 billion in benefits going unclaimed

More than £16 billion in benefits going unclaimed

Category: Economy

Updated: 18/12/2017
First Published: 03/02/2010

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

A group of charities has called on the Government to set ambitious targets to improve the take up of benefits, after it emerged that over £16 billion is going unclaimed each year.

Latest official figures show that as many as four out of five low paid workers without children miss out on tax credits worth at least £38 a week – a total of £1.9 billion.

In addition, as many as half of all working households entitled to housing benefit – worth £37.60 per week – do not claim it.

Council tax benefit and pension credit are amongst the other benefits showing signs of significant under-claiming.

Up to three million households are missing out on £13 a week in council tax benefit, while as many as 1.7 million pensioners are missing out to the tune of £31 a week in pension credit – a significant amount to a group that consistently struggles to make ends meet.

Since 2000, the take up of housing benefit and council tax benefit have both fallen, while the proportion of eligible claimants of child tax credit is far lower in London that other parts of the country.

Twenty-seven charities have launched a campaign – spearheaded by Citizens Advice – and have written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Yvette Cooper, highlighting the need for more to be done to ensure funds earmarked for children, families and pensioners reach the people for whom they are intended.

"The Government has made a serious commitment to eradicate child and pensioner poverty, and to help the working poor, yet up to £10.5 billion of means tested benefits and £6.2 billion of tax credits remain unpaid each year," said David Harker, chief executive of Citizens Advice.

"This adds up to millions of people in dire need missing out on the help they should be getting to make ends meet. This is bad news at any time, but it's especially worrying when so many are still feeling the impact of the recent recession."

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