Skint? Here’s where to find long-forgotten money

Stop scrambling down to the back of the sofa for lost pennies – you could be sitting on a goldmine* of forgotten funds. From flight delays to work uniforms, we can show you where to dig (*we cannot guarantee an actual goldmine)

Child trust funds

Do you have a child born between 2002 and 2012? Time to cash in, as some now-teenagers could have hundreds of pounds to their names. In 2005, the Labour government introduced the Child Trust Fund: a long-term savings account automatically set up for children (which would later be replaced by junior ISAs).

The state contributed to these until the initiative ended, but many lay dormant and remain untouched today – meaning that some children could have up to £1,000 sitting in the bank. Visit the HMRC website to find out the provider and balance of your child’s fund. gov.uk/child-trust-funds

Flight delays and cancellations  from trips long past

A bad experience six years ago might mean more than a stressful memory. In fact, EU compensation law means you could be up £540. Your journey must have been scheduled for some time in 2012 (2013 if you’re in Scotland) or later, and either delayed by over three hours or cancelled.

Some airlines might try to sidestep paying out based on their own small print, but an increasing number now adhere to the law without much fuss. To apply for compensation, contact your airline directly. If you’re not sure how long a delay was, flightstats.com has that information.

Challenge your council tax band

MoneySavingExpert has estimated that nearly 400,000 UK homes are paying too much council tax. Data from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) showed that over 10,000 households in England and Wales successfully appealed their bands in 2016 – meaning not only did they cut their annual bills by up to £400, but some received a tax rebate in the thousands.

Most appeals result in no change, and you do run the risk of having the charge increased after assessment – but only 30 people saw such an outcome in the year studied. To challenge your council tax rate, get in touch with the VOA if in England and Wales or the Scottish Assessors if in Scotland. 

Uniform tax allowance

If you wear a uniform to work which is a recognisable part of your job (think branded tops and nurses’ uniforms) and you’re liable for purchasing, washing and repairing it, you could be due some of your income tax back.

As long as your employer requires you to wear it (and doesn’t provide facilities for it to be washed) and you paid income tax on the year you’re claiming for, it’s very possible you overpaid and could be the recipient of a rebate in the hundreds of pounds. To apply for employment expenses, visit HMRC online and fill in a P87 form.

Granny Savings

There are 50 years’ worth of Premium Bonds prizes still unclaimed, totalling no less than £30m. Often bought for children by parents and grandparents as gifts for the future, keeping track of those certificates and accounts over decades should probably come with a prize of its own.

Otherwise, you can turn to National Savings’ tracing service which has seen that a total of £35m in lost money made it to the 36,000 people with a claim to it. The tracing tool is easily accessible on the National Savings and Investments website. nsandi.com

Other lost pots to look out for

Unknowingly paying double insurance policies (mobiles phones are the main culprit here); historic bank accounts archived due to inactivity; cash knocking around old pension schemes, particularly if you’ve had several jobs; and don’t dismiss the dated lottery ticket lurking under the couch (there’s £13m in unclaimed National Lottery and EuroMillions prizes).

Read the full article in this week's Big Issue.
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