This blog was contributed by Lucy Harmer, Age UK’s Head of Services.
Many older people experience a complex interaction between living on a relatively low fixed income, declining health and mobility, and risk of social isolation. They need holistic, independent information and advice (I&A) from advisers with experience and knowledge of their specific issues. Good-quality I&A is essential to enable people to access entitlements and services in order to maintain a decent quality of life and to continue to live independently. Timely interventions can prevent increased pressure on health and social care services. This is especially important when people in later life and the services they rely on are experiencing unprecedented change and challenges. Unfortunately, many older people struggle to find the support that they need as they navigate a complex system, often against a background of cuts to provision or changes in eligibility.
Government policy increasingly focuses on extending choice in public services, increasing independence and giving people more personal responsibility. If older people are to benefit from these developments, the government must ensure that they have access to the I&A they need to make informed decisions. Failure to access I&A when it is needed can increase the risk of long-term or multiple problems. Continue reading “Who can I turn to? Information and advice services for older people”
Far too many older people are living in poverty – the latest figures put the number at 1.8 million. That’s an incredible number of people struggling to ‘make do’ on less than 60% of average (median) income after housing costs.
But despite the scale of poverty in later life, a huge amount of benefits, £5.5 billion, goes unclaimed each year. About 30% of older people who are eligible for Pension Credit do not take up their entitlement.
So, you may ask, if so many older people living in poverty are in such desperate need, why don’t they claim their benefits?
Many older people have had negative experiences when claiming benefits, finding the whole system insurmountable. For example, the application form for Pension Credit is 43 pages long. Older people are more likely than any other age group to miss out on their benefits because they are hesitant to claim, don’t think they are eligible, or believe the claiming process is over-complicated and intrusive. There is a real need to get rid of the stigma that some people associate with claiming benefits.
Age UK’s More Money in Your Pocket campaign aims to overcome these barriers, offering independent information and advice that is delivered by our trusted local Age UK partners. Our Information and Advice workers support older people them to claim what they are entitled to.
Today marks the start of the More Money in Your Pocket road-show, sponsored by Legal & General (L&G). After several months of planning, our newly branded Age UK bus is on the road visiting the eight areas in England that the Department of Work and Pensions have identified as having the highest numbers of older people who are eligible for Pension Credit but have not claimed.