You might be eligible for financial assistance from the government due to any number of your current circumstances. There may be types of benefits available that you aren't aware of but are perfectly entitled to.
Although the criteria set out for who can claim for benefits tends to change regularly, they will generally fall into the following categories:
If you are unemployed
If you are on a low income
If you are ill, disabled or injured
If you have dependants
If you are aged over 60
If you are pregnant, or have recently had a baby
There are a large number of benefits available depending on your personal circumstances. To see what could be available to you, check the Gov.uk website.
The welfare system has been simplified by the introduction of Universal Credit; a single payment that is replacing 6 state benefits. Our guide, What is Universal Credit? Explains what it is, what it is replacing and how it is being rolled out.
The best way to work out exactly what benefits you could get is to use a benefits calculator. Entitledto.com offers a calculator that will estimate what kinds of benefits you may be entitled to, and gives you information about how you can go about claiming them. All you need to do is enter your details including your salary, age and details of any dependants.
The Gov.uk website offers the option to apply for many benefits online, including Universal Credit, or download the relevant forms and fill them in by hand, if you prefer. You can also apply through the Gov.uk website for tax credits.
You can obtain benefit application forms by visiting your local Jobcentre, council, or Citizens Advice Bureau. Talking to someone about your individual circumstances at one of these establishments may also be a worthwhile venture, in order to find out what benefits could apply to you.
Many people are put off claiming for benefits because the system can be unnecessarily confusing, but this needn't be the case if you look carefully into the benefits you may be entitled to and apply accordingly for what you think you should be receiving. If you are successful with a claim, benefit money will be paid directly into your account from the day your claim was made - so it's worth applying as soon as possible.