Scots are failing to claim benefits they are entitled to, with an estimated 500,000 individuals or families not signing up for income-related payments they can legally claim.
The shortfall has prompted ministers to make a public intervention to highlight the range of support on offer. A week-long series of radio and press adverts will run with the aim of encouraging more people to take advantage.
Among the benefits that are commonly left unclaimed are the Sure Start maternity grant, Carers Allowance and the funeral expenses payment.
The Scottish Government is working with the Citizens Advice service in Scotland to provide a dedicated web page with all available information on benefits and tax credits, eligibility and how to access them, as well as a freephone benefits helpline.
Social security minister Jeane Freeman said the benefits system exists to help those in need and on low incomes and that people should not be worried about claiming what they are entitled to.
“Claiming the benefits that people are entitled to will help maximise family incomes and can reduce poverty levels,” she said.
“For example, around a third of pensioners are entitled to Pension Credit but do not claim it. We want to help people to know what financial support is available that could make a difference to their lives.
“We also know that personal circumstances can change very quickly – whether it’s losing a job, a family bereavement, becoming a carer for a family member, or having a child.
“The evidence tells us that often many of us don’t realise that changes in our lives can mean we are entitled to additional support.
“Many of us will need that financial support at some point in our lives, whether we’re in work or not. So we all have stake in ensuring everyone is looked after properly and the social security system exists to help and support those who need it, when they need it.
“Making sure that everyone receives the financial help they are entitled to is one of the first steps towards putting dignity and respect at the heart of social security policy.”
The freephone benefits helpline is 0800 085 7145.