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Figures show over two million UK pensioners are living in poverty, with black and asian older people most at risk

Published on 17 June 2021 11:21 AM

Age UK Birmingham urges local people to get in touch as figures show over two million UK pensioners are living in poverty with black and asian older people most at risk.

Len Goodman and Rustie Lee back Age UK’s call for pensioners to check their eligibility for Pension Credit                                                          

The number of pensioners in poverty has now passed the two million mark,[i] with Black and Asian older people most at risk of struggling financially in later life, warns Age UK Birmingham as it urges any older person in Birmingham and Sandwell who feels financially hard-pressed to check their eligibility for Pension Credit.

Pension Credit is a benefit that tops up low pensioner incomes, typically taking an older person who receives it above the poverty line. Being found to be eligible for Pension Credit also acts as a gateway to some other benefits, potentially transforming an older person’s standard of living.

Since 2013/14, the number of pensioners in poverty has risen by almost a third (31 per cent) from 1.6 million. Official figures[ii] show that a third of Asian older people (33 per cent) and just under a third of Black older people (30 per cent) in the UK live below the poverty line, compared to 16 per cent of White older people. The over-85s, renters, and single, female pensioners, are also at greater risk of poverty than the older population as a whole. The total number of older people living in poverty in the UK now stands at 2.1 million.[iii]

Despite these high numbers and recent government figures showing that nearly a million older people could not afford an unexpected bill of £200,[iv] nearly a million (920,000) pensioner households are missing out on Pension Credit payments worth up to £1.6 billion every year[v] – that’s an average of £32 a week, or over £1,600 a year, per recipient.

Mr and Mrs A are in their late 60’s, they both have restricted mobility and underlying health conditions. With Age UK Birmingham’s help, they were awarded £226/week pension credit and they received £3118 in back dated payments, as they were unaware of the benefits that they were entitled to.

Mr A said, “I want to thank you so much for all your support. This extra money will be a big help to us”.

The Charity is urging all pensioners who are struggling to make ends meet to put in a claim for Pension Credit – a means-tested, tax-free benefit for pensioners that opens the door to many other potential benefits including:

  • A free TV licence (if also over-75)
  • Help with Council Tax
  • Free NHS dental treatment and help towards the cost of glasses and travel to hospital
  • A Cold Weather Payment of £25 when the temperature is 0°C or below for 7 days in a row
  • Help with rent
  • An extra payment within Pension Credit for carers, worth up to £37.70 a week

Age UK Ambassadors, Len Goodman and Rustie Lee, are supporting the Charity’s call for older people to find out if they are entitled to Pension Credit.

Len Goodman: “Older people are so resilient and tend to know how to make do, but it doesn’t have to be like that for those who are struggling to manage day-to-day bills. 

“Pension Credit is a benefit for low-income pensioners to help cover the costs of later life.  Lots of people don’t even know it exists, meaning almost a million older households are not getting the extra money they are entitled to. For those that have claimed, it can mean being able to stick the heating on for longer or having the money to buy essentials for their home to keep well and safe. 

“That’s why I’m supporting Age UK’s efforts to raise more awareness about this benefit.  There’s help out there and Age UK can support older people throughout the whole process – from information gathering to form filling.  Please… I would urge anyone who’s watching the pennies to find out more and see if they can make a claim.  Pension Credit not only gives you more money each week, it can also be a gateway to other help too.”

Rustie Lee: “It’s so important for everyone who’s feeling the pinch at the moment to see if they might be entitled to claim some extra help. It’s just shocking that so many older people can’t afford the basics such as decent, healthy food or keeping their house nice and warm.

“Pension Credit is a really important benefit that can make a big difference to older people on a budget, giving them a bit of extra cash to pay for things that most people for granted. I’d urge any older person who is struggling to make ends meet at the moment to speak to Age UK to find out if they could be eligible for Pension Credit, it could make all the difference and open the door to lots of other financial support too. There’s absolutely nothing to lose by making a claim!”

Alison Beachim, Chief Executive Officer, Age UK Birmingham said: Pension Credit is a much needed life line for many pensioners, it provides extra money each week to help pay for every day bills.  Some are living on low incomes and in poverty and we (Age UK Birmingham) can make an application on their behalf, which could mean pensioners are able to gain the extra income they need.”

“Last year we claimed over a £1,000,000 in benefits, putting money into the pockets of older people to help improve their standard of living or buy much needed services or support. All it takes is around 30 minutes to fill out a form, it’s completely confidential and we will help with the paper work, if successful the application could also lead to more savings in other areas such as the TV licence costs, and an overall a lift in their quality of life – mentally and physically, ensuring later life is more enjoyable.”

“We are available Monday – Friday from 09:30am – 1:30pm and offer independent advice and support, so please get in touch and call us on 0121 437 0033 or 0121 437 0479.”

To make a claim, people should call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234 or visit