Welfare reform and the benefits system have been high on the news agenda recently, but an often overlooked issue is the persistent problem of pensioner poverty. With 1.7m pensioners (14%) currently living in poverty, and £5.5bn pounds of benefits left unclaimed by pensioners, Age UK has re-launched its Let’s Talk Money campaign.
A significant amount of research highlights that there are many reasons why older people aren’t claiming the benefits that they are entitled to – from a perception that the application process is too complicated, to the belief that they don’t qualify.
With so many people slipping through the net, Age UK aims to challenge the myths around eligibility, and encourage older people to claim the benefits that they are entitled to so that they can make the most of later life.
The campaign continues to focus on encouraging older people to claim the benefits they are entitled to, such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Attendance Allowance.
People on low incomes can use the extra money that benefits provide to pay for utility bills, broken appliances or some much needed help around the house – removing financial stress that is a burden for so many. Continue reading
Posted in Campaigning, Income, Money Matters
Tagged #letstalkmoney, Age UK, Age UK Advice Line, Age UK blog, Ageing, ageing population, ageing society, Attendance Allowance, benefit calculator, benefit entitlement, benefits, benefits advice, benefitscheck, housing benefit, Income, let's talk money, let's talk money campaign, money, money matters, More Money in Your Pocket, older people, Pension Credit
Winter fuel payments are in the news yet again. I have lost count of the number of reports and media articles I have read about why these should be reformed and how the money could be better used to cut the deficit or transform our failing system of care or solve some other crisis. And please don’t tell me again that millionaires don’t need a winter fuel payment or a bus pass. Of course not – but let’s make policy changes based on the position of majority of older people not the small minority who are very rich. (when the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out last year that Alan Sugar didn’t need a bus pass Lord Sugar tweeted in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t have one!).
Photo: HarlanH (Creative Commons)
So should we be looking at restricting universal payments to the less well off? It has been suggested that they should just go to people receiving Pension Credit. However that would mean that up to 1.6 million of the poorest older people would miss out because they are not claiming the Pension Credit they are entitled to. The big advantage of universal payments is that they reach everyone including those do not take up means-tested benefits. They also provide some extra help to the ‘not rich but not poor’ group who can feel because they made sacrifices during their working lives they miss out on benefits and are penalised for having saved. Continue reading
Posted in Income, Money Matters
Tagged #spreadthewarmth, Age UK, Age UK blog, Ageing, ageing society, fuel poverty, money matters, older people, Pension Credit, pensions, spread the warmth, Spread the Warmth campaign, universal benefits, Winter Fuel Payments
It seems incredible that, in the name of cost saving and to prevent a few well off pensioners from receiving some pretty modest benefits, ministers can be entertaining the idea of extending means-testing.
Making people apply for benefits they are entitled to is notoriously inefficient. Pension Credit is not claimed by about 30 per cent of those eligible and Council Tax Benefit by about 40 per cent. When Gordon Brown refused to increase the state pension above the rate of inflation (with a freakish inflation figure in 1999 leading to a 75p increase), he argued that a means-tested Pension Credit was the efficient answer.
However, even he exercised a balance, by making the Winter Fuel Payments universal and restricting the free TV licence to the oldest – who are demonstrably the poorest part of our none-too-wealthy older population, and of course a means-tested claim costs ten times as much to process as an automatic one.
Bizarrely this proposal is surfacing as the ONS publish figures on the poverty risk facing older people ion the UK and the EU. It turns out, according to their figures, that older people in the UK are faring worse than their counterparts in most of the rest of Europe.
There are more than enough poor pensioners struggling with energy bills and food price inflation to maintain some parts of our benefit system which actually get help to them.
Some older celebrities were proud to proclaim last winter that they were donating their Winter Fuel Payment to charity – that is fine and that is their right. It is hard to imagine many of the seriously rich pensioners on the buses with their passes. Continue reading
Posted in General, Income
Tagged Age UK, Age UK blog, Ageing, ageing society, bus passes, Council Tax Benefit, means-testing, older people, Pension Credit, pensioner poverty, pensioners’ benefits, pensions, poor pensioners, poverty, state pension, state pension system, universal benefits, Winter Fuel Payments