The benefits system is confusing. There’s a lot of information out there so it can be hard for people to know where to start. Add to that the stressful situations people are often in when they need to claim benefits and it creates a perfect storm.
That’s why we created a simple checker to give people an idea of what benefits they could be entitled to.
The success of the checker has gone way beyond our expectations in just a few months. Since launching in February, nearly 86,000 people have completed it. It’s already the most popular tool on the Citizens Advice website and nearly 80% of users who start the tool complete it, taking an average of 4.5 minutes to do so.
The checker is for people who’ve got 5 minutes to spare rather than the 20 mins it takes to complete a more thorough calculator, such as the Turn2us one.
The checker asks a series of questions, for example how many hours do you work, do you have a disability, do you have children under 20 etc, to give a snapshot of what help is available. The results page details what you might be entitled to and provides links to more information about the benefit and explains how to apply.
Users don’t need to scrabble around looking for bank statements and council tax bills — most of the questions require a ‘yes/no’ answer so it’s really easy to use.
We know there are some great, detailed calculators out there that both advisers and the public use. Our checker isn’t trying to replace or compete with these. It’s simply to help those who are overwhelmed.
We’ve worked closely with advisers and experts to navigate the complex rules, regulations and dependencies to ensure the most accurate results.
It’s an ongoing process — we’re continually analysing feedback so that we can improve the benefits checker. We’ve already made some changes since launch, including making it easier for users to enter their date of birth, which was a common issue people were telling us about.
We’ve also added accessibility improvements for keyboard users and clearer field labels for users with screen readers.
And we’re keeping a close eye on the rollout of Universal Credit so we can incorporate that to the checker in the future.
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