Turn2us, a national charity that helps people in financial hardship, has seen a dramatic rise in people using its Benefits Calculator to work out what welfare benefits they are entitled to and how a change of circumstance could affect what they are currently receiving.
There have been 1,564,669 welfare benefit calculations using the poverty charity’s online tool since the start of the year, a 34% rise on 1,166,456 welfare benefit calculations for the whole of 2015. This is 4,286 calculations each day, and one every three minutes in 2016.
Unsurprisingly, trying to work out what they are entitled to has kept people awake at night, with almost one hundred thousand (99,793) of these calculations in 2016 taking place between midnight and 6am.
At the same time, the charity’s figures indicate a significant rise in the estimated total annual welfare benefit uplift for those who have used its Benefits Calculator – which is £245 million for the year to November, a 48% increase compared to the previous year.
Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us, said: “The very high number of welfare benefit calculations is a reflection that a very high number of people continue to struggle to make ends meet in changing circumstances, their own and that of the welfare benefit system.
“The dramatic rise in calculations this year shows that this need is, if anything, even more pronounced. The figures also underscore the importance of seeking help, which can often be difficult when you are faced with an overwhelming financial situation.
“The increase in the level of support we’ve been able to help people get access to shows that making support services like these more widely available does have a beneficial effect.
“The message I would give to any support organisation is that raising awareness really can have a significant and beneficial impact.
“Similarly, we know that asking for help can often be a daunting and complex thing, yet our figures show clearly that making that first step to seek practical financial help – help which is, after all, set aside deliberately for those who are struggling – can make a huge difference.”