Claiming benefits could aid wellbeing
Published on 09 March 2012 01:00 PM
Large numbers of older people living in poverty are unaware of the benefits they are entitled to, with researchers suspecting this could be affecting their health.
Experts at Newcastle University are to study the impact that helping these people to make claims has on their wellbeing.
Participants will be supported in their own home by an experienced benefits advisor, and given assistance with form-filling.
Many of the two million UK pensioners living in poverty could be lifted out of it if they claimed all the benefits available to them.
Professor Martin White, Professor of Public Health at Newcastle University, who is leading the new study, said: 'We found many of the older people in our previous study were finding it difficult to make ends meet. Added to this, many were living in poor health or caring for a chronically ill relative.
'Additional income makes their lives easier, and could make a real difference to their health.'
A previous small-scale study revealed that after receiving advice, 68 of 126 participants received extra welfare.
Accordingly they saw their income rise, on average, by around £55 a week. For many older people this can make a huge difference to their quality of life, and consequently their health.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General at Age UK says: 'There is a staggering amount of benefits unclaimed by older people each year. Pension credit and other benefits can make such a huge difference to someone's quality of life and we welcome the Newcastle University study which should provide more detailed research evidence on the impact of receiving benefits.
'Living on a low income is hard work and while older people show a great deal of resilience in managing their money there are many who find the day to day penny pinching an exhausting struggle.
'We would urge any older person who is struggling or worried about money to visit our website www.ageuk.org.uk, call our free advice line on 0800 169 6565 or speak to their local Age UK.'
Copyright Press Association 2012