As we enter the summer season and experience warmer weather in the UK, it might seem like the energy crisis is behind us and things are returning to normal. However, the reality is far from it for millions of households across the UK who continue to struggle financially.
The cost of living crisis has arrived straight after the Covid-19 pandemic and households are really feeling the strain.
Inflation, sky high energy costs, rocketing food bills, high rents and rising mortgages are becoming the norm. Millions of people are turning to food banks to survive.
It seems crazy to think that in the middle of a cost of living crisis £19 billion pounds of benefits and financial support is going unclaimed every year by UK households. It is an issue particularly affecting the most economically vulnerable members of society.
Since its establishment in 2009, IncomeMax has assisted over 130,000 individuals to claim what they are entitled to.
Vulnerable people within society have arguably faced a greater impact due to the cost-of-living crisis. Many of our customers who require help and support have been placed on pre-payment meters for their gas and electricity. Affordability or credit risk concerns often lead to this situation, leaving them with limited disposable income to cover essential costs and forcing them to make difficult decisions regarding what essentials they can and can’t afford.
IncomeMax has been providing assistance to these customers since 2009, but the current cost of living crisis has made life even more challenging for those who were already struggling. Fortunately, over the past 14 years, IncomeMax has managed to identify and secure over £38 million in additional income for the most financially vulnerable members of society. In the past 12 months, we have also formed a partnership with the Fuel Bank Foundation, allowing us to provide emergency pre-payment vouchers to individuals. These vouchers enable them to top up their pre-payment meters, ensuring they can have heating and lighting when they are unable to afford a top-up and would otherwise face self-disconnection.
Unfortunately, due to inflation and the recent energy crisis, we have observed a higher rate at which individuals in crisis consume emergency fuel vouchers for pre-payment meters. Additionally, the impact of the rising cost of weekly supermarket shopping and public transportation expenses on disposable income means that the support provided by the Fuel Bank Foundation doesn’t last as long as it has done in previous years. The same challenges exist for those who rely solely on benefit income, stretching what families must pay for despite the benefit rates increase in April 2023.
Nonetheless, IncomeMax remains committed to tirelessly seeking additional income for individuals and families. In the past 12 months alone, we have discovered new income sources for 88% of the customers referred to us by our partners, including Ovo Energy, EDF, Agility Eco, Utilita, StepChange Debt Charity, and Nationwide.
Our service involves identifying and assisting individuals in claiming benefits they may have overlooked due to the complexity of the system or simply being unaware of their entitlement. In the past year, we have successfully identified and confirmed payments over £8 million in new income for our customers. However, we are fully aware that there is more we can do.
At IncomeMax, the £19 billion in unclaimed means-tested benefits each year drives us on. It is a topic we continually address and discuss.
Should we, as a society, accept this situation every year without taking action? Should the system be simplified? What more needs to be done?
Interestingly, at IncomeMax, 84% of the individuals for whom we discover new income are already receiving some form of benefit income, indicating that they are slipping through the safety net designed to support them.
Could the £19 billion pounds of unclaimed income be re-allocated by Government to alternative methods of providing assistance to those who need it most?
IncomeMax, alongside other organisations in the income maximisation sector, intends to explore these questions in detail during our upcoming income maximisation event in July 23.
This event will be hosted in the House of Commons and aims to engage policymakers and Members of Parliament in a conversation about these very issues.
If you support our cause and would like to attend this event, please get in touch.