£60m windfall is lifeline for poorest homes but £16bn left unclaimed
Posted by: Sharon MacPherson on March 03 2022 | Tagged:
Twelve thousand lower-income households can claim more than £60 million pounds in benefits they are due every year thanks to sleuthing by “responsible” finance providers and a financial technology firm.
Many people are missing out on £400 to £500 per month, with almost eight out of ten people on low-incomes not claiming the full amount they could, because they are unaware of the benefits they are entitled to, or assume they are not eligible.
But detective work by two social enterprise community finance firms has already helped 12,665 people identify £5,146,853 in benefits they can claim each month to top up their incomes.
The staggering sum works out at £406 per person every month, with the impact even bigger for households with children, who can claim additional benefits of £533 per month they currently don’t.
It’s been uncovered through an automatic, online benefits calculator which compares the actual benefits people receive with the benefits they are entitled to, based on their specific circumstances and financial situation.
Scotcash, a not-for-profit community lender which provides services to people who have difficulty accessing mainstream sources, and Salad Money, a social enterprise specialising in affordable credit for NHS and public sector workers, have integrated the calculator into their websites since October 2021. Anyone applying to them can use it – whether or not they borrow from the firms.
Scotcash and Salad are community lenders and specialists in helping the UK’s 11 million “financially vulnerable” people build their financial resilience. Politicians across parties and the FCA’s Woolard Review have called for an expansion in these types of lenders, known as community development finance institutions (CDFIs), to ensure fair financial products are more widely available when people need them.
The calculator, powered by award-winning fintech Inbest, has helped Salad and Scotcash applicants top-up their salaries with their benefits entitlement, reduce their bills, apply for smaller amounts of credit than they thought they needed and build savings.
Sharon MacPherson, CEO of Scotcash, said:
“With rocketing utility bills and higher national insurance contributions financial insecurity is expected to rise, so it’s more important than ever people claim everything they are entitled to.
“One of the most frequently underclaimed benefits is Universal Credit. I know many of our customers are worried that moving from legacy benefits to Universal Credit will mean they have less in their pockets, but in fact, on some occasions, the reverse is true. For example, one Scotcash applicant who was working, claiming Working Tax Credit and renting privately found their benefit had almost doubled when they claimed Universal Credit.”
Tim Rooney, CEO of Salad Money, said:
“Millions of people are feeling the punishing increases in the cost of living in their daily budget. But many households are unaware of benefits they are rightfully due, wrongly assume they are not eligible for any benefits or think an application is too complicated. Households across the UK currently miss out on £16 billion in benefits they could be claiming. I’m proud that our team has already helped thousands of lower-paid NHS and public sector workers put hundreds of pounds into their pockets every month.”
Theodora Hadjimichael, CEO of Responsible Finance, which represents the UK’s community lenders, said:
“Thanks to impact-focused responsible lenders, lower-income households now have millions of pounds in their pockets they wouldn’t otherwise, a lifeline with such huge increases in the cost of living coming and yet another example of CDFIs – community lenders – helping people build financial resilience.
“Community lenders’ focus on the best outcomes for their customers is a contrast to the approach of many high-cost lenders. Community lenders help customers build their financial well-being, and if people don’t access the benefits they are due they can end up in worse financial situations. We’re thrilled to see the immediate impact this calculator is having.”
Manu Peleteiro, co-founder of Inbest, said:
“It’s so common for people to be unaware of the benefits they are entitled to, or assume that they are not eligible. The most efficient way to make these households aware of their benefits is by embedding a benefits check into complementary services they already use, and affordable lending is a prime candidate. We are proud of the way this partnership is helping Scotcash and Salad Money applicants, including people who are not able to get a loan.”