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Are you claiming enough?
Many people are still missing out on money they are entitled to, according to the experts at Bath's Citizens Advice Bureau, who are urging local residents to find out more about benefits.
The charity says local people should get information and advice about their benefits entitlements and act now to get the money they are owed.
As much as £9.9 billion in means tested benefits went unclaimed last year, affecting as many as 6 million people. Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Working Tax Credit in particular are all currently massively under claimed.
Celia Gale, Bath CAB's advice services manager, said: “Recent increases in essential everyday expenses means many people are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet. Yet too many people are missing out on money that is rightfully theirs.
"Many simply assume they won’t qualify and others are daunted by the prospect of making a claim.
"But claiming can be simple. We are urging anyone who is unsure about their entitlements or who like help making a claim to come along to the bureau and get a free confidential benefits check.”
And Celia says people should act now, or risk losing out.
“It is vital that people don’t delay and put in claims now, as new government proposals, due to come into effect in October 2008, will reduce the period people can claim backdated payments from 12 months to three, " she said.
“We hope that our benefit take up campaign will encourage as many people to claim and that we can help put money back in the pockets of Bath and North East Somerset residents, as many are struggling with increased day to day costs."
In 2007-2008 staff at Bath Citizens Advice Bureau helped Bath and North East Somerset residents claim £3,130,000 in benefits they did not know they were entitled to.
What could you gain?
• The average weekly amount of Pension Credit currently going unclaimed is £28.40, enough to make a huge difference for someone living on a low and fixed income and facing rising fuel bills
• Those struggling to pay their Council Tax bills could benefit from claiming Council Tax Benefit - the average currently going unclaimed is £12.90 a week.
• An adult working 30 hours a week earning the minimum wage could boost their income by up to almost £1,700 a year by claiming Working Tax Credit.
• Almost a million people are missing out on £2,280 million of unclaimed Housing Benefit. Around half of working people entitled to housing benefit do not claim.
Where to claim
You can use the numbers listed below to find out about the various benefits and whether you are eligible for any, otherwise your local CAB will ensure you know what you are entitled to and how to claim.
Working Tax Credit 0845 300 3900
Pension Credit 0800 99 1234
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit B&NES 01225 477777
Bath and District CAB - George St 0844 848 7919, or personal callers on Mon Weds and Friday only, 10-12.30.
Bristol CAB, Broad St - 0844 499 4718
Clevedon CAB, Old St - Fax 01275 341279. Drop in advice Tuesdays 10am - 2pm
South Glos (Yate) CAB, Kennedy Way - 0870 121 2019
South Glos (Staple Hill) CAB - 0870 121 2019
last updated: 20/08/2008 at 09:05