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IME IS RUNNING OUT FOR OLDER PEOPLE TO QUALIFY FOR £650 COST-OF-LIVING PAYMENT

Published on 28 July 2022 02:35 PM

Age UK urges all pensioners on a low income to put in a claim for Pension Credit now or risk missing out on £650 of extra help towards the cost of living this year.

Older people have until Thursday 18th August[i] to put in a claim for Pension Credit[ii] in order to qualify for the Government’s £650 cost-of-living payment.[iii] Age UK is urging all older people who are struggling to make ends meet and who are not already in receipt of Pension Credit to put in a claim without delay, so they don’t risk missing out.

Announced as part of a support package in May, the government’s Cost of Living Payment will be paid to those in receipt of Pension Credit (and other qualifying benefits) in two lump sums of £326 and £324 – the first will be paid automatically between mid-end July and the second will be paid in the Autumn.

To be eligible for the first lump sum, older people must have been entitled to a Pension Credit payment (or later found to be entitled to a payment) in the period 26 April – 25 May 2022. Because a successful application for Pension Credit can be backdated by three months, those who begin the claiming process before 18th August are guaranteed to meet the eligibility criteria.

That’s why Age UK is stepping up its call for people to put in a claim for this essential benefit. As well providing a much-needed income boost and automatically qualifying them for the government’s Cost of Living Payment, Pension Credit also opens the door to a wide range of additional support including:

A Cold Weather Payment of £25, paid automatically when the average temperature is 0°C or below over seven consecutive days

£140 off electricity bill thorough the Warm Home Discount Scheme (if eligible)

A free TV licence (if over-75)

Free NHS dental treatment and help towards the cost of glasses and travel to hospital

Help with Council Tax and rent

Cheaper phone and home broadband deals

Reduced water bills

An extra amount of Pension Credit for some carers worth up to £37.70 a week

Those in receipt of Pension Credit, which can be backdated up to three months, tops up the weekly income of a single pensioner to £182.60 or a pensioner couple to £278.70[iv], (or higher in some circumstances).  Pension Credit comes in two parts: Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit and it’s separate from the State Pension.

Yet despite considerable financial benefits, a third (34 per cent) of pensioners eligible to claim Pension Credit are still missing out – a huge concern, especially as the cost of living continues to rise. The government’s own figures show that 770,000 eligible pensioner households (single people or couples) are not receiving their Pension Credit payments, worth around £1.5 billion every year[v] – an average of £1,900 a year, per household.

Age UK has been inundated with stories from older people who are struggling to get by and worried about rising bills and how they’ll cover all the extra costs of living this year.

Gayle is in her mid-70s and lives alone. She struggled financially until her local Age UK organised a benefits check.  She said: “Age UK’s help was life-changing and meant I didn’t have to worry about bills for the first time in my life.” However, with high inflation, the increasing cost of living, and huge energy prices, Gayle worries that she will once again struggle to make ends meet.  Gayle commented: “Having the Age UK benefits check has made a huge difference to my life. That little bit of extra money has made difference to what I can do on a day-to-day basis. My energy bills are safe until after the new year, but when you see prices going up and up and up, it makes you worry about what might happen when my deal runs out. How can pensioners afford these increases when the state pension doesn’t cover half of it?”

Linda, 76, was supported by a local Age UK with hot meal deliveries during the pandemic. She is a widow and lives with chronic COPD and osteoporosis, which affects her mobility. During the first lockdown, Linda needed help finding an emergency plumber, and once the issue was resolved, she was recognised as someone who could benefit from additional assistance.  Upon request, Linda received a full-benefits check which resulted in a near doubling of her weekly income. She was also able to apply for a grant towards her energy bills over the winter and received a £150 award, as well as detailed advice on using energy efficiently.  Linda told the Charity: “I can’t thank Age UK enough. I’ve never had as much money.”

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “It’s not too late – there is still a window of opportunity for older people on low incomes to qualify for the first part of the government’s £650 cost-of-living payment this year, so we urge people to claim without delay, so they don’t miss out.

“Pension Credit not only gives a significant boost to people’s weekly income; it also opens the door to a wealth of extra support including help with energy bills, a free TV licence and discounts off household bills. We know that around three quarters of a million pensioners are missing out on this important benefit right now.

“If you’ve been hearing about Pension Credit and wonder if you might be entitled to it, please contact Age UK for more information. Many people often think if you have some savings, or a small pension there’s no point applying but that’s often not the case. The sooner people act, the sooner they will find out if they are eligible for some of the additional financial help, and this could be life-changing for them.”

As part of Age UK’s, ‘It Doesn’t Add Up’ cost-of-living campaign, the Charity is urging any older person living on a low income or struggling with their bills to contact Age UK’s free Advice line on 0800 169 65 65 without delay to check they’re receiving all the financial support available to them. Alternatively, people can visit www.ageuk.org.uk/money or contact their local Age UK for further information and advice.

 

Age UK also hosts a free and anonymous Benefits Calculator, available via www.ageuk.org.uk which can provide an estimate of the benefits that people could be entitled to.

To make a claim for Pension Credit, people should call the DWP Pension Credit claim line direct on 0800 99 1234 or visit www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim.  It can be claimed by phone and online.