In the UK, around £19bn in benefits are left unclaimed by those who are entitled to them each year, with almost £6bn of this unclaimed by elderly people. Whilst some older people may still feel that claiming any form of government assistance carries some kind of social stigma, this isn’t really the case in this day and age.
For the most part, people on low incomes fail to claim what they are entitled for through ignorance. You can’t claim what you don’t know about after all; but the idea of the welfare system is to help and protect some of our most vulnerable members of society, who might otherwise suffer ill health through poverty.
Take the Affordable Warmth Scheme, for example, how many people know that they may qualify to get a replacement, energy-efficient boiler, along with insulation for their walls and loft space?
Not too many, I wouldn’t have thought, it doesn’t seem to have been advertised in a widespread manner by the government.
Who is entitled to it?
According to the actonenergy website, ‘fuel poverty’ is high on the government’s agenda thanks to rocketing fuel prices, which are predicted to double over the course of the next 12 months.
The definition of fuel poverty is any household that has to spend more than 10% of its total income on fuel in order to stay warm. This is often exacerbated by poor energy efficiency in appliances, high fuel prices and a low household income.
This has led to the Affordable Warmth scheme being introduced and you qualify if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You’re in receipt of Income support
- You receive working tax credits and your income is £15,860 a year or less.
- You receive child tax credit and your income is £15,860 a year or less.
- You get income-based job seekers allowance
- You are entitled to pension credits
- You have a support allowance or income related employment.
Depending on your circumstances, this could mean that you qualify for a new, energy-efficient boiler from an approved supplier such as Help-Link. You could also qualify for cavity wall and loft insulation, to further improve energy efficiency and help save cash.
Why apply for the scheme?
If your boiler is old, there is a good change that it’s not energy-efficient. By applying for the scheme, you could have an A-rated boiler installed that could save you as much as £310 per year. Whilst that might not sound much spread out over the course of the year, to those on a low income, it’s a substantial saving.
Of course, there are further benefits if you’re interested in the environment and sustainable energy, but feel that your income holds you back when it comes to helping to do something about it.
If you’re not sure if you need a replacement boiler and insulation, then it’s worth doing a Home Energy Check online. This will tell you about the carbon emissions produced by your home and give an indication of the overall energy efficiency of the property.
Before you start, you will need:
- Total floor space in your home by square metres
- When your home was first built
- Type of roof (slated, tiled)
- Wall types and if they are insulated
- Number of external doors and windows, as well as the type
- Type of heating and lighting used in the home
Then it’s just a case of filling in the information to see how much you can save by addressing any problems in these areas each year. If you consider that average UK fuel bills are now at an all-time record of £1,352 per year, compared to £819 just five years ago, then it’s easy to see why savings need to be made.
Let’s face it, the energy industry isn’t overly interested in helping us all out if you consider how much fuel bills have risen.
Worryingly, some reports suggest that fuel bills will soon top what we pay for our mortgage, with trends showing nothing but rises when it comes to energy costs for the foreseeable future.
This means that now is the time to take action, especially since the British weather appears to have recently decided that it no longer does summer. Find out if you’re eligible today and start saving, you might be surprised how much of a difference it makes to your pocket and winter shivering.
It really is important that you look into and claim all the breaks and benefits that you are legally eligible for. After all they have been put into place to help you in your particular eligible position. This goes for people in the UK, USA and all over.