Help is available for those you need it.
Benefits aren’t just for the unemployed or the sick. There’s support available for a broad variety of people – from parents to the bereaved, from low-earners to carers, from the young to the old. Even people will a decent income might be eligible for certain support.
And it’s not all money. Some benefits come in the form of discounts on bills, housing, travel and more. Others might provide you with food, a blue badge for parking, free dental treatment or even things like school uniforms.
There could even be a grant you can apply for, where the money and support you get comes from charities rather than the government.
Ok, so the amount you’ll get in cash or kind from any of these routes might not be great. And at times the processes can be mired in bureaucracy and injustice. But if you are entitled to any of these benefits it means you need it. And it will in turn help you and your finances.
Don’t be too proud. Don’t think you can’t claim. If you’re struggling then it really is worth making a claim.
So how do you go about doing this? Well, first of all, you need to find out what – if anything – is available to you.
Find out what benefits you can claim
There are so many different benefits I’m not going to list them here. Instead it’s worth taking 10 minutes to check what you personally can get.
The way to do this is to use a benefits calculator. There are a number out there, and these are regarded as good ones to try.
You’ll need some basic information to complete the calculators including your household income and level of savings, details of any benefits you already claim and all your bills.
Go through the calculator and you’ll get a list of what you can apply for and how.
Where to get advice about benefits
Need more help? Well there’s plenty of free advice out there.
Citizens Advice is a great source of help for people needing advice on many topics, including benefits. However, demand always outstrips availability so you might struggle to get an appointment. You can find more information about how to get in touch with your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) here.
There are also specialist benefit advice lines for individuals suffering from cancer, the elderly, single parents and more. The Money Advice Service has a good list of these groups here.
How to get a food bank referral
Food banks work slightly differently, and you need to have a referral in order to get one of the food parcels.
Places you can get a referral from include local organisations and individuals such as your local CAB, your GP and social workers.
The Trussell Trust, which runs the country’s largest network of food banks, suggests you contact your local food bank to see who they work with locally.
Once you get your referral voucher you can visit your food bank and you’ll be given a parcel that should last you three days.
It’s worth noting that most food banks are only open for a couple of days each week (the one near me is just Tuesday and Friday), so you need to plan ahead if you are close to running out of all your food.