Tom, 80, worked as a machine setter until suffering an accident at work. Pamela, 75, worked at the same factory as her husband until it closed and then she became a dinner lady at her children’s school. They celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary this year and are keen gardeners.
Living with a spinal condition and failing eyesight, Tom is becoming increasingly reliant on Pamela for support.
Pamela claimed Carer’s Allowance and was awarded ‘underlying entitlement’ to the allowance.
Her State Pension stopped her being paid the allowance itself, but because she met the conditions for Carer’s Allowance this meant she could claim extra benefits, such as a reduction in their Council Tax and a small amount of Pension Credit through the Saving Credit element. Tom and Pamela also became entitled to help when paying for glasses and dental work.
'My husband had a pain in his jaw and the dentist thought he might need a root canal. When you go to the dentist the costs go up and up every time. It would have cost £200 or £300 but they mentioned there might be some benefits available. It was only an enquiry through Age UK which set the whole thing off.
‘We didn’t know there were benefits like this. It’s a shame other people don’t know you can get it, it was just by chance that we got into the stride of things. You get the forms and if you tick a wrong box that’s your benefit gone. The professional help from Age UK Gateshead just guided us through it. It’s benefiting us already and making life easier.’
How the government could help more people like Pamela
How many thousands of older people like Pamela are caring for loved ones, but missing out on the extra financial support to which they are entitled because the process for claiming it is simply too hard to navigate?
The benefits system can be incredibly complicated for carers. It is perverse that people like Pamela have to claim a benefit with no direct financial value in order to receive extra support from means-tested benefits, and only an expert would know this is how the system works. The Government has made changes to the rules that could make things simpler but unfortunately these have not yet been put into effect.
The Government must act now to simplify the way that carers claim the benefits to which they are entitled. And Local Authorities should use their responsibilities under the Care Act 2014 to improve the quality of information and assistance on offer to carers about sources of financial support.
Age UK wants to see a world where no older person is trapped in the day-to-date grind of living in poverty. Support our End Pensioner Poverty campaign.