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.
David and Linda’s story
Benefits specially developed for people over the state pension age can transform lives.
66-year-old Linda cares for her husband David, 70, who has Parkinson’s. David’s illness made him depressed and financial worries were an extra anxiety.
David thought they weren’t entitled to anything, as he had a private pension and they owned their own home.
Linda was self-employed with her own business for 15 years, but hadn’t paid enough contributions which meant she was only entitled to a certain amount of pension.
After spotting an article about the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP), Linda called the DWP who passed her the phone number for Age UK. She called Age UK and had a call back the same day, advising what to prepare in advance of the advisor’s visit.
The Age UK Advisor visited their home and chatted with David. They identified £72 of Attendance Allowance per week, found a reduction on council tax, gas and electric.
David couldn’t believe it, thought they’d have to give the money back as there’d been a mistake. The extra money has been a godsend and provided a little cushion if things break down.
There is more money there for the essentials and they’ve now got home contents insurance which they couldn’t afford before. They can now also go out and buy plants for the garden, and the extra money has reduced David’s anxiety.
If you know someone who might be struggling to make ends meet or could benefit from a bit of extra money, here are a few things you can do:
- Go online and use Age UK’s benefit calculator to find out exactly what you could be entitled to – www.ageuk.org.uk/benefitscheck
- Pop into your local Age UK and speak to one of our advisors for free
- Call the Age UK Advice Line on 0800 169 65 65 to request a free More Money in Your Pocket booklet, which contains benefits advice for people over pension age
Find out more about Age UK’s Let’s Talk Money campaign or get in touch with your local Age UK or call Age UK Advice, the charity’s free helpline 0800 169 65 65.