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Throwing money away is the last thing anyone would willingly do.
But that’s exactly what millions of us do every year by failing to claim what’s rightfully ours in compensation, rewards, tax breaks and giveaways.
There’s plenty of cash up for grabs – you just need to know where to look and how to claim.
1. Train and flight compensation
It pays to know what you are entitled to, should you travel plans go wrong.
If your train is cancelled or delayed and you choose not to travel you can demand a full refund. The length of delay that triggers the entitlement to a refund differs but is typically thirty minutes. You may also be able to claim compensation on top.
For example, if your train is delayed for more than an hour you are entitled to 50% of your fare back, regardless of the reason your train was late and whether you still travel.
Some season-ticket holders may be able to claim a 50% refund after just a 30 minute delay. The rules vary depending on which network you travel with. They usually calculate the level of refund against the proportional daily cost of the price of the ticket.
Compensation rules vary from network to network for non-season ticket holders. Visit National Rail to find the relevant firm. You can usually claim online or by post. Sometimes the forms – known as delay repay forms – are handed out by staff as you come off a badly delayed train.
If you are travelling by plane and your flight arrives at its destination more than three hours late you may be entitled to compensation of up to €600.
How much you get depends on the length of your journey and the delay. If you think you’re eligible contact your airline and request compensation under EU law 261.
You cannot claim for delays caused by so-called extraordinary circumstances such as bad weather and strikes.
With the important Brexit date of 29 March looming, many will be concerned about the impact on travel. It’s anyone’s guess if there’ll be disruption to flights after 29 March. Official guidance says flights should continue as normal -even if there’s no deal. But the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned it’s possible it could lead to cancellations. If cancellations do occur, you won’t entitled to the EU compensation for flight delays as it’s unlikely to be the airline’s fault. The good news is that you’re still entitled to a full refund or an alternative flight.
Millions of pounds still lies unclaimed from banks and enders for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI). If you think you were mis-sold a policy alongside an old credit card, mortgage, loan, overdraft, car finance in the last 30 years, you must complain to the lender before August 29 this year – or lose your right to claim your money back forever.
The common types of mis-selling include people being lied to that they had to have it, it being added without their permission or given it when it was inappropriate such as ‘unemployment cover’ for those who were self-employed.
If you think you might have a claim, don’t leave it until the last minute as there’s likely to be a backlog of cases and there’s a chance you could miss out. So get your claim in now.
Claiming is pretty simple. While there are plenty of companies offering to make the claim on your behalf, they’ll take a chunk of any money you’re awarded. So carve out an hour or two out of a rainy day and submit the claim yourself. There’s a template letter on the MoneySavingExpert.com website that will help – https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/ppi-loan-insurance/#resolver. If you were missold, you’re entitled to the full amount you paid out as a result of having PPI, plus an additional 8% interest.
3. Uniform rebate
If you wear a uniform to work, pay for it and wash it yourself, you can get a tax rebate of £100s.
You don’t need to wear a full uniform to qualify for the refund – those who wear a branded T-shirt can claim.
The amount you get varies depending on your tax rate and the industry you work in.
The standard flat rate expense allowance for uniform maintenance is £60 (for 2018/19) – so basic-rate taxpayers can claim £12 back (20% of £60), and higher-rate payers £24 (40% of £60).
But some jobs allow you to claim more.
Even better, you can get back-dated payments for four years (so that’s a total of five including the current tax year), so this can lead to £100s rebates for some.
You don’t need to pay anyone to claim the money, you can do it yourself for free by filling out the P87 claim form on the Government website www.gov.uk.
Once you’ve registered, your tax code will change, so you’ll automatically be taxed less in the future.
4. Power of attorney refunds
Millions of people in England and Wales are owed up to £54 after they were overcharged when registering for power of attorney.
This might not apply to you – but might to someone you know, so take note.
Power of attorney is a vital document that gives someone the legal authority to manage your finances should you fall ill or have an accident.
The fee for registering this document is only supposed to cover the cost of providing the service.
But those who applied between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2017 were charged more and may now be entitled to a refund.
The amount refunded depends on when the application was made.
Those who registered between April to September 2013 will get the full £54, or £34 for those between October 2013 and March 2014, £37 for those between April 2014 and March 2015, £38 for those April 2015 to March 2016 and £45 for between April 2016 and March 2017.
You can claim the refund online by visiting gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund and filling in personal details such as your name, date of birth and address.
You will need the bank account details of the person who registered the document.
The refund should be paid within 12 weeks. You can also apply by phone. Call 0300 456 0300 and choose option six.
There’s no rush on this one – the deadline to claim is January 31, 2021.
5. Free cash from your employer
Thanks to the Government’s auto-enrolment scheme, most workers are – rather sensibly – saving for retirement. But it is possible to opt out of the scheme so that you have more money in your pay packet, because you’re not putting anything into your pension. But the rules are that if you do contribute, so does your employers.
So by opting out you’re effectively giving up free money from your employer. Make sure you’re opted in.
Holly Thomas is an award-winning financial journalist and former Deputy Personal Finance Editor at The Sunday Times. She writes across all areas of personal finance and consumer issues, specialising in investments, mortgages and property. Previously she worked at the Daily Express and Sunday Express as Money editor and also at Financial Times Business. Holly was voted Freelance Journalist of the Year at the HeadlineMoney Awards in 2016. Her work can be seen in national press including The Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.