MILLIONS of people are set to receive a £300 cost of living payment this week.
Households on certain benefits, including Universal Credit, will receive the cash as a lump sum paid directly into their bank accounts.
Those eligible for the tax-free payment won't usually have to do anything as it will be made automatically.
Payments are scheduled to hit bank accounts between Tuesday, October 31 and November 19.
But there are a number of checks you should make now to ensure that you get exactly what you're entitled to.
We spoke to David Samson, benefits expert at the charity Turn2us, who gave his five checks to make before payments drop.
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"Firstly, you can double check if you are eligible for the cost of living payment by visiting Gov.uk," said David.
You'll qualify if you claim any of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit
- Income-based jobseekers allowance
- Income-related employment and support allowance
- Income support
- Working tax credit
- Child tax credit
- Pension credit
But you will need to have been entitled to a payment for any of these qualifying benefits between August 18 and September 17 to be eligible for the free cash.
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If you were later found to be entitled to any of them between the same dates, you will also be eligible for the payment too.
To ensure you get the cash make sure your bank details are all up-to-date with both the DWP and HMRC.
Don't expect to receive the cash immediately
David said: "If you are entitled to the payment, you should be paid automatically but not everybody gets paid on the same day.
"Your payment date depends on which benefit you are claiming."
Households on all eligible benefits apart from tax credits are paid by the DWP, and will start receiving the £300 cash from Tuesday, October 31.
As there are millions of people getting the cash, they can't all be paid on the same day, so the payments are staggared.
You should get the money by November 19 at the latest.
Those on tax credits only will receive their payment from HMRC between November 10 and 19.
This is to ensure that those on both tax credits and another eligible benefit will not get the payment twice.
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How to check if you've been paid
David said: "When you are due to get paid, check that the payment has been made into your bank or building society account."
The payment reference for bank accounts will include your National Insurance number followed by DWP COL or HMRC COLS if you receive tax credit only.
For example, if your NI number is JT 83 42 97B your payment will show up as "JT 83 42 97B DWP COLP" or "JT 83 42 97B HMRC COLP" on your bank statement.
Act if you haven't received the cash
David said that if you have not been paid by November 19, you'll need to contact the DWP or HMRC.
Details of how to report a missing payment are included on the government's website.
You will be able to report a missing payment from November 20 using this link secure.dwp.gov.uk/report-a-missing-cost-of-living-payment/welcome.
What to do if you've missed out
David said: "If you have missed out this time, make sure you are claiming the benefits you are entitled to, so you don't miss the next payment in spring 2024.
"Start by doing a benefits check using the Turn2Us Benefits Calculator."
You can find this at benefits-calculator.turn2us.org.uk.
The Autumn £300 payment coming this week is only the second of three payments that form the £900 total support.
The first instalment worth £301 was paid out to over eight million households in April and May.
The final £299 cost of living payment will be made in the spring of 2024.
The qualifying dates for the last instalment of the cash help will be revealed at a later date.
But this is likely to be next year, so there's plenty of time to apply for benefits now.
The latest estimates suggest that a whopping £7.5billion is going unclaimed, and anyone earning less than £60,00 has been urged to check – it can take just 10 minutes.
How do I check if I'm eligible for benefits?
There are several free online benefit calculators that you can use to see how much you might be able to claim and via which benefit.
Before using the tools, make sure you have key financial information to hand, such as bank and savings statements, and information on pensions and existing benefits.
If you live with a partner or family, get their basic financial information together too as this could affect your claim.
Of course, the tools only provide an indicator of what benefits you can claim – and usually don't include means-tested benefits, so you may be entitled to even more.
Entitledto's free calculator works out whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit.
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Entitledto's data also powers benefit checkers from MoneySavingExpert.com and debt charity StepChange.
Charity Turn2Us' benefits calculator also works out what means-tested benefits you might be entitled to.
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