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Financial Wellbeing: Benefits

It’s easy to think you might be earning too much to qualify for benefits, or if you already claim benefits, you might not realise you could be entitled to extra support. Around £10 billion in benefits goes unclaimed every year so it's always worth a check.

The following information will help you navigate the different benefits so that you can get advice on what you can apply for, how much you might receive, and how to apply.

Do a benefits check

It’s easy to think you might be earning too much to qualify for benefits or wouldn't be entitled to them. Alternatively, if you’re already getting benefits, you might not realise you could be entitled to extra support. But around £10 billion in benefits goes unclaimed every year, so it’s always worth taking another look.

Check out what you could get using an online benefits calculator such as the: 

If you live in Northern Ireland, find out more about what benefits and financial support you might be entitled to on the NIdirect website.

Understanding changes to your benefits

There may be circumstances when your benefit entitlement changes or stops. This could be due to a new benefit decision, a change in law, because your circumstances have changed, or an official error.

The RCN Welfare Service has online advice to help you understand decisions about your benefits, and guidance on challenging or appealing incorrect decisions and payments. They can also offer advice and representation in some circumstance:

See RCN Welfare Service: Understanding benefits decisions.

Incorrect Universal Credit calculations

Some individuals claiming UC (known as “claimants”) lose hundreds of pounds each year because their paydays clash with the UC monthly 'assessment periods.'

Due to the way Universal Credit is calculated, some RCN members who are working whilst claiming Universal Credit may find their benefits incorrectly reduced. This means they may lose 'work allowances' worth up to £293 per month, and could be incorrectly subject to the benefit cap.

Read more about how your benefit is being affected by the assessment of your earnings, and what you can do about it:

See RCN Welfare Service: Universal credit leaving you out of pocket.

What the RCN Welfare Service can help with

Before contacting the service, we encourage you to look at our online advice and complete the tools/checkers relevant to your situation, as this may answer your query without the need to wait for an appointment.

If you've already used the online advice pages and completed any relevant tools/checkers (or if your physical health / mental health / personal circumstances prevent you from doing so) we can offer:

  • Advice and assistance with benefits decisions (e.g. if you're confused by a change/stop/underpayment of benefits, or need help challenging a benefit decision)
  • Advice if you're struggling to manage your finances and have problem debts (such as rental arrears, overpayment of wages/NHS Pensions/DWP Benefits/HMRC Tax Credits)
  • Information to help you understand your financial situation, including encouraging and empowering you to take control of your finances
  • Signposting you to additional services or resources 

The RCN is unable to offer FCA Regulated Debt Counselling. If you are seeking advice with consumer credit debts such as credit cards, bank overdrafts, and Hire Purchase then please see the Debt and Money management page for information on the steps you can take and how to access support.

Book an appointment

Find out how to book an appointment to speak to one of our advisers, and how to prepare for your appointment.

Universal Credit Money Manager

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Increasing your income

If your household income feels tight or you've had a change in circumstance, check your entitlement to benefits, or look at other ways to increase your income.

Money worries

Advice if you're worried about your  finances, rent/mortgage, or debt, as well as information on charitable funding, financial aid and where to seek support.

male nursing writing at desk

Managing your money

Resources, and tools to help you with budgeting, banking, car costs, utilities, tips on saving and advice on analysing spending habits.