With tight restrictions and stay at home orders, Covid-19 almost immediately and irreversibly impacted how we work. For many, once certain employment became at risk as businesses began to shut up shop and we saw the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Putting millions of workers on furlough, the scheme came into effect to keep people in jobs. However, earning 80% of their previous salary put many under financial strain. Moreover, as the pandemic restrictions continued, the outlook became bleaker, with unemployment rising and the recorded level of redundancies in September-November 2020 being at its highest in any quarter since records began in 1995.
The pandemic and the benefit claim surge
This higher level of financial insecurity led many to seek help. Financial support charity, Turn2us, witnessed a surge in members of the public accessing information on benefits, the majority of whom were completely new to the benefits system.
Welfare Benefits Project Manager at Turn2us, David Samson, saw a spike in those using the charity’s online benefits calculator, which helps people get to grips with what they could potentially claim:
Bowing under the weight of increased financial insecurity, access to benefits was already proving to be difficult, if not impossible, for new claimants. However, even if access were easier, David believes there is a more significant, systemic reason for people struggling financially and not attempting to access the financial assistance they need.
Barriers to claiming benefits
Benefits have historically carried a stigma, with potential claimants being too embarrassed or ashamed to seek the help they need during a difficult time:
And even if they can overcome that stigma, the complex nature of the benefits system can discourage people from even trying in the first place:
How Turn2us can help
Turn2us is a national charity that aims to tackle financial insecurity and help people access the financial assistance they need.
The charity’s online benefits calculator is a free and anonymous tool that asks intuitive questions about an individual’s current situation to give them an idea of what they could be entitled to.
Their website also includes a grant search tool where users can find out if they can apply to a charity for financial help. These valuable tools are complemented by a range of informative and straightforward resources that aim to improve people's understanding of the benefits system and how it relates to them.
Visit the Turn2us website to find out more.
Thanks to David Samson for his contributions to this article. David is the Welfare Benefit Projects Manager at Turn2us.
Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash