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 “Let’s Talk Money”
Age UK’s Moneybus has helped older people claim more than £300,000 in health and income benefits. Sponsored by Legal and General, the Moneybus visited English regions with the highest number of older people that are eligible for financial benefits, but haven’t claimed – Cheshire, Leeds, East Riding, Bradford and District, Country Durham, Northumberland and Wiltshire. Pippa Webster, who manages Age UK Salisbury’s Information and Advice department, tell us about her experience on the bus.
When the Moneybus came to Salisbury at the beginning of October, I spent the day giving advice to all those who climbed aboard. The organisation of the event and the Age UK volunteers who came as support were absolutely fantastic – giving away 950 goody bags and encouraging more than 50 people to come into the bus to discuss the benefits they might be entitled to.
Although it was a bit of a tight squeeze at times, it was remarkable how many older people came along to see us who weren’t at all perturbed at discussing their financial situation with us on a bus! Continue reading “All aboard the Moneybus”
We carried out a piece of research which studied whether the proportion of older residents in lower super output areas (LSOA) in England receiving disability living allowance and attendance allowance was statistically related to the degree of income poverty among older people in the area. (LSOAs are geographical areas with a mean population of 1,500 people; there are 32,482 LSOAs in England). The paper was peer-reviewed and was just published in the Journal of Maps (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17445647.2012.695441).
We applied a number of spatial econometric techniques, given the geographical nature of the data. The data for beneficiaries come from the Department for Work and Pensions. Income poverty among older people is one of the indicators compiled by the Social Disadvantage Research Centre at the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Oxford. The estimates of total population by age are from the Office for National Statistics.
We found a greater concentration of DLA and AA recipients over state pension age living in deprived areas than in more affluent areas: nearly 30 per cent older beneficiaries live in the 20 per cent poorest of areas and approaching two thirds live in the poorest half of areas.
Even after accounting for significant spatial effects, we still found a strong, positive relationship between proportion of beneficiaries and proportion of older people in poverty .
These allowances are therefore benefiting more deprived communities.
The study does not allow us to affirm that the allowances are directly benefiting older people in lower income. However we can conclude that these benefits, although not means-tested, would be partially addressing the geographical inequalities in income of older people across England.
Reducing or eliminating these benefits would hit the harder the poorer the neighbourhood.
Last year, Age UK helped 500,000 people put £120million back in their pockets through free benefits information and advice. This year, we will continue to break down the barriers that prevent people from claiming, in particular older people not realising that they are eligible for some additional income. For more information, please visit www.ageuk.org.uk/moremoney
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