Benefits checklist: Are you claiming all the money you're entitled to? 

As the cost-of-living crisis tightens belts, here's how to put more money in your pocket.

Benefits checklist: Are you claiming all the money you’re entitled to in Scotland?  iStock
Benefits and grants are available for eligible families

Millions of Scots will see the pay they take home each month rise as changes to National Insurance contributions come into force.

The plan, announced by former chancellor Rishi Sunak in March, sees the threshold at which people pay NI increase to £12,500 from £9,880.

Employees currently pay national insurance contributions (NICs) on annual earnings above £9880 but the threshold increases to £12,570 from Wednesday.

The change will save some 30 million British workers up to £330 a year.

What other benefits and cost-saving schemes could Scots be missing out on? Here are some ways you could potentially pocket more money.

Cost of living payment

More than eight million low-income households across the UK will receive a one-off cost of living payment of £650 this year. 

The tax-free grant will be paid directly to households on means-tested benefits as part of a £37bn package to help vulnerable families. 

It will be paid in two lump sums, with one sum of £326 paid from July 14 and another of £324 issued in autumn.

Pensioners will also receive an extra £300 in the winter alongside the fuel allowance.

Every household in the country, regardless of income, will receive a £400 discount on energy bills. 

Disabled people, meanwhile, will receive an added £150 on top.

Pensions

Low-income retirees are being urged to check if they’re entitled to a top-up as thousands of households are missing out on key support.   

The UK Government estimates around £1.7bn in Pension Credit goes unclaimed, with families potentially missing out on around £1,900.

The report estimated that 850,000 families have not claimed Pension Credit in 2019/2020 – around three in ten.

That could also entitle you to help for NHS costs such as glasses and a free TV licence if you are over 75.

Pensioner households that receive the Winter Fuel Payment will get a top up of between £200 and £300 in November and December.

Disability cost-of-living payment

People will receive £150 in September if they are already claiming one of the following:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Scottish Disability Benefits
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

Help with housing costs

In Scotland, if you rent your home and get Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, but still can’t afford your housing costs, you may be eligible for a discretionary housing payment.

You could qualify if you:

  • Claim housing benefit but it doesn’t cover all your rent
  • Claim universal credit but still can’t afford your housing costs
  • Need help with removal costs
  • Need help with a rent deposit

Your local council is responsible for deciding if you will get a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Energy bills

In October, every household will receive a £400 energy grant. This does not have to be repaid.

If you are struggling with your bills, you should contact your supplier in the first instance.

The Home Heating Support Fund is working with the Scottish Government to help people facing financial difficulties.

The scheme has been extended until March 31, 2023, or until funds have been exhausted.

Grants are available to help pensioners with their energy bills.iStock
Grants are available to help pensioners with their energy bills.

Winter heating help

The Low Income Winter Heating Assistance is a new government benefit to replace the Cold Weather Payment.

If the seven-day average temperature in your area falls below freezing between November and March, those eligible will be entitled to a Cold Weather Payment of £25 a week to put towards fuel costs.

Child winter heating help

Child Winter Heating Assistance is a benefit from the Scottish Government.

It was first paid in 2020 and is designed to help disabled children and young people and their families with increased heating costs over winter. 

Paid out once a year, usually from the end of November, it’s worth £214.10 in 2022-23.

School uniforms

Parents and carers may be able to get a school clothing grant by applying to their local council.

It’s normally a cash grant paid directly to your bank account. Entitlement can vary depending on the authority’s rules.

Everybody who gets a school clothing grant will get at least:

  • £120 per child of primary school age
  • £150 per child of secondary school age

You may be able to apply for free school meals at the same time as you apply for the clothing grant.

Other payments for parents and carers

Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods are payments that help towards the costs of being pregnant or looking after a child.

Best Start Grant is made up of three payments:

  • Pregnancy and Baby Payment
  • Early Learning Payment
  • School Age Payment

Best Start Foods is a pre-paid card that can be used in shops or online to buy healthy foods such as milk or fruit.

The payments you can get now will depend on:

  • How far along in your pregnancy you are
  • How old your child is

How can I check what I can claim?

Colin Mathieson, spokesperson for Advice Direct Scotland, said: “The cost of living has increased for everyone over the last few months, with budgets being stretched to breaking point for many.  

“There are practical things we can do to try and improve our situation when faced with increasing costs.  

“Many Scottish citizens are not claiming the full benefits that they are entitled to.  

“You can check your entitlement to support, including Scottish devolved benefits using the benefits calculator available at www.advice.scot.  

“We also have a range of services available including help for people struggling with debt and energy bills, as well as sources of financial support.”