Half of low income households in Scotland are not claiming benefits and tax credits they could be entitled to, a charity has claimed.
Research by Turn2us has also revealed that nearly three-fifths (58 per cent) of those in Scotland who aren’t receiving this support said they had been deterred from checking or claiming potential benefits entitlements because they did not think they would be eligible.
The national charity, which helps people in financial hardship, also says over two-thirds (67 per cent) would not consider checking their benefits entitlements if their income dropped, and only two per cent would turn to a charity for help.
However, the research shows 37 per cent said they would cut back on gas, electricity and other essentials, and over a quarter (28 per cent) would resort to cutting back on food.
The research is released as Turn2us launches its 2016 Benefits Awareness Campaign to help more people in financial hardship to access the welfare support available to them.
The charity is urging anyone in need to use its free and confidential Benefits Calculator at Turn2us.org.uk to see what they could be entitled to and how to make a claim. The website also features information on benefits and other help for a range of different circumstances.
Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us said: “Shockingly around £15bn in welfare support still goes unclaimed every year, and as our findings show, people often feel that benefits simply aren’t for them.
“Through our campaign, we want to show that financial hardship can happen for many different reasons and could affect anyone at any time in their lives.
“Welfare benefits exist to provide a vital source of support for people in need, including those who are in-work, and as our research highlights, these can make a positive difference in paying for basic life essentials. We would urge anyone struggling to visit our website today to check what support could be available.”