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Over £23bn worth of welfare benefits went unclaimed in the last year, report finds

NEW analysis has found that over £23 billion worth of welfare benefits went unclaimed in the last year.

The report, by Policy in Practice, found that the number had risen from £19bn the year before and that figures could be closer to £30bn if it were to analyse disability benefits and discretionary support.

Universal credit is the most unclaimed benefit at £8.3bn, with an estimated 1.4 million missing out on this type of support.

This is followed by carer’s allowance (£2.3bn), pension credit (£2.2 bn) and child benefit (£1.7 bn).

The analysis said that most claimants are simply unaware that certain benefits exist and cited navigating complex criteria as a serious barrier.

The report comes as household debt rises to £8.8bn a year.

Policy in Practice managing director Jade Alsop said: "Our findings show that as a society, we can’t afford not to consider these measures to prevent further costs to our health, education and social care services.

“It is estimated that, by improving pension credit take-up alone, the cost of social care will decrease by £4bn a year.”

Claire Atchia McMaster, director of income and external affairs at anti-poverty charity Turn2Us, said that feedback they receive indicates that accessing benefits is “complicated, inaccessible and emotionally draining.”

She said: “This complexity prevents millions from claiming vital support, exacerbating financial insecurity and impacting wellbeing.”

Ms McMaster called for clearer action from the government to ensure support reaches everyone who needs it.

Benefit calculators can be accessed on the Turn2Us and Policy in Practice websites.