This free financial service could be worth £1,800 to you – Hayley Matthews

You may not have an unclaimed lottery win, but you could be due unclaimed benefits. Picture: PA
You may not have an unclaimed lottery win, but you could be due unclaimed benefits. Picture: PA
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The Money Talk Team, funded by the Scottish Government, has already helped thousands of families in Scotland, writes Hayley Matthews.

I remember years ago reading all the unclaimed lottery prizes on the national lottery website and squirming at the thought of all those people who had money sitting there but had no idea.

Thousands and thousands of pounds and the list went on. As I sat looking at all the sitting cash amounts I hoped that one of them would be for me. One ticket had been bought in a shop that I frequented and it was for around £250,000. I was convinced that it was a ticket I’d put on. It wasn’t.

Despite them only being valid for around six months I still can’t throw away lottery tickets for the fear of losing out on money that I’m possibly due.

Even more alarming than unclaimed lottery wins in the country are the unclaimed benefits that are due to people in Scotland.

Recent studies show that there are an estimated 450,000 unclaimed benefits and I’m sure all of them would be welcomed should people be aware of their pending windfall. I’m certainly keen to find out if I’m missing out on anything.

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People often think that working in media sounds glamorous but believe me, I’m as skint as the next person with work coming in dribs and drabs, two mouths to feed and outrageous bills to pay. Unless you make it to Lorraine Kelly status then it’s going to be beans on toast several nights a week, so when I got the call about doing some work with the Money Talk Team to try it out for myself and help raise awareness to those who may be missing out, I was quite pleased. We have a ten-month-old with a ten-a-day yoghurt habit to pay for so any advice on maximising our income is openly welcomed in the family.

I speak to many parents who say they end up struggling to pay the bills at the end of the month and sadly it’s a common and dire situation but you’re not alone, there are loads of us with tight belts.

I’ve called up The Money Talk team and have mentioned to my friends about them too. However, they don’t just deal with parents and it doesn’t matter if those calling are in work or out of work, they can help check what people are due and make sure we’re not paying too much for things such as gas and electricity. I’ve found it really helpful.

The Money Talk advice team are openly encouraging families to call them up for a chat on 0800 085 7145 to help get anything due and I can’t think of a reason not to. Even if there’s one person out there whose life is made easier by finding out they’re due extra money, then I’ll sleep easier.

Too often I hear people saying that they feel hard done by the government or screwed over as the country is in a mess and nobody knows what’s going on. However, I have to admit, I have a lot more faith in the Scottish Government than I do in Westminster. I also find it encouraging to see projects like this that are being funded by the Scottish Government to help those who often have it pretty tough anyway.

I’ve had it on good authority that in the last nine months, the Money Talk Team have helped 3,198 people with an average saving per household of £1,800. It’s by far been the most rewarding paid partnership that I’ve worked on so far this year and with the Citizens Advice Network delivering the help to those calling up, my faith in the system has been restored.