Many benefits go unclaimed because people don’t know what they are entitled to. Last year Nottingham advice services helped people to unlock more than £10 million of unclaimed benefits and tax credits – often by helping to overturn benefits decisions which were wrongly refused.
If you are considering claiming Universal Credit then you may want to get advice before making your claim.
If you are on existing benefits and make a Universal credit claim you cannot return to the existing benefit system. As well as the financial considerations there are differences in the way the benefits are paid and the levels of debt recovery from your benefit, which are higher than the existing benefit system.
If you are in any doubt about whether Universal Credit is right for you then seek advice before making your claim.
Scam alert for Universal Credit
Greater Manchester Police have warned about a scam where people are pretending to offer people low cost government loans - and using the details to apply for Universal Credit.
Officers in the region say Trading Standards have been made aware of the scam which is targeting people in the North West.
As a result they have urged people to 'never give personal or financial information to anyone you do not know.'
A post shared by a number of GMP Twitter accounts says: "Trading Standards have been made aware of a scam being operated across the UK, and appears to be particularly prevalent in the North West of England."
It adds: "The scam is targeted at anyone of working age. Never give personal or financial information to anyone you do not know".
SCAM ALERT - Watch out for Universal Credit scammers
According to BBC News, benefit claimants are being targeted by scammers promising a low-cost loan or even a grant from the government.
What they don’t tell you is that the money you’ll receive is actually an advance for Universal Credit. After the fraudsters have taken their cut of your advance, victims are left to pay back the total amount after their Universal Credit payments begin. One scammer took £1,000 as their “fee” from a payment of £1,525.
According to the DWP, 10% of new Universal Credit claims could be fraudulent. Victims have included vulnerable people such as those who are out of work, homeless or have drug dependency issues.
How to spot a Universal Credit scammer
Victims described being approached by someone who says they work for Jobcentre Plus. They could be smartly dressed and even have a badge or ID to “prove” they are acting on behalf of the Jobcentre. They promised one victim she’d receive a grant from the government that didn’t need to be paid back.
To apply for a Universal Credit advance on your behalf, they will ask for ID such as your driving licence or passport, your bank card or details of your accounts and could even ask to take a photo of you.
One victim reported that the first sign that she had been scammed was when her tax credits were stopped. When she called up to ask about it, she was told she couldn’t claim tax credits and Universal Credit at the same time. Repayments started to be taken from her benefits as soon as her UC payments started.
There are a number of benefits for school aged children, to find out more please click here.