Nearly three million over-65s – that’s one in four – are struggling financially, according to new research for Age UK,[i] despite an estimated £3.5 billion in Pension Credit and Housing Benefit alone going unclaimed each year.[ii]
With the latest government figures showing that pensioner poverty is on the rise – with 1.9 million pensioners now living below the poverty line[iii] – the Charity is urging older people to get in touch to find out if they’re entitled to some extra financial support.
The government’s latest figures show that one in 10 people aged 65+ would not be able to pay an unexpected expense of £200, to replace a broken washing machine for example.[iv] Yet millions of older people who are struggling to survive on a low income could be entitled to benefits such as Pension Credit, which has slightly increased this month and could provide a much-needed boost to their weekly income if claimed. In fact, if people who are eligible for Pension Credit make a claim, it could increase their income by an average of £42 a week – that’s £2,184 a year.[v]
The Charity publishes a range of free guides to help people navigate the benefits system and has trained advisers on hand all year round to offer support. The Charity has just updated its More money in your pocket guide to reflect benefit changes which came into effect earlier this month[vi]; the guide is specifically designed to help older people claim the benefits to which they are entitled, including Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, and help towards paying council tax. In addition many older disabled people could receive extra support by claiming the non-means-tested Attendance Allowance. The Charity also publishes mini-guides including Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance Carers Allowance and Council Tax – all available free of charge by calling Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65 65.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Managing on a low, fixed income is really tough, and many people face a daily struggle just to afford the basics. That’s why is it so important that every older person who is entitled to claim benefits does so. Every day Age UK helps people to claim what they are entitled to, and every day we hear how much of a difference the money makes, how surprised people are by how straightforward the process is with the help of an adviser, and how much less they have to worry about everyday bills.
“It is shameful that despite millions of older people struggling financially, around £3.5 billion in money benefits remains unclaimed every year when this extra income could make a huge difference to their lives. We would urge anyone who is worried about their finances, or an older family member or friend, to get in touch with us for free, impartial information and advice.”
To order a free copy of any of Age UK’s guides, or for further information and advice on any issue, people should call Age UK Advice free of charge on 0800 169 65 65, contact their local Age UK, or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/letstalkmoney, where there is also an online personalised benefits calculator to help people find out exactly what they are owed, quickly and easily.
Did you know that Age UK Richmond claim an average of £1.3 million annually in Welfare Benefits for the residents of this borough?
If you live in the borough of Richmond upon Thames and would like to check if you are entitled to any Welfare Benefits, please get in touch on 020 8878 3546 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can visit you in the comfort of your own home and even better, we help fill in the forms.
[i] Actual number is 2,825,000. TNS polling for Age UK, March 2017 – sample of 1,333 people aged 65+ in GB. “Struggling” is defined here as the aggregated answers “Just about getting by”, “Finding it quite difficult” and “Finding it very difficult”.
[ii] Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up: financial year 2014/15, DWP, 2016
[iii] Households Below Average Income 2015/16, DWP, March 2017
[iv] Family Resources Survey 2015/6, DWP, 2017
[v] Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up: financial year 2014/15, DWP, 2016. This is the mean figure. The median figure is £24 a week.
[vi] Pensioner’ benefits were annually uprated on Monday 10 April, 2017. All of the new rates in Age UK’s More money in your pocket guide which can be found at http://www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/EN-GB/Information-guides/AgeUKIG43_More_Money_In_Your_Pocket_inf.pdf?dtrk=true
A brief summary of benefit rates for April 2017/18
Who can claim it? Most people aged 65 or over who have personal care needs or require supervision to keep safe.
How much (per week)? £55.65 if you need help in the day or at night. £83.10 if you need help in the day and at night.
Who can claim it? Many people who care for someone with a disability or health problem for at least 35 hours a week.
How much (per week)? £62.70. If you are receiving your State Pension check your position – it is not paid on top of the State Pension but there may still be advantages to claiming.
Who can claim it? Most people on a low income who rent their home.
How can it help? Amount varies, but may cover your rent in full (this is especially likely if you receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit).
Pension Credit – Guarantee Credit
Who can claim it? Most people on a low income. The qualifying age is increasing and was 63 years and nine months in April 2017.
How much (per week)? Amount varies, but tops up your income to at least £159.35 for single people and £243.25 for couples.
Pension Credit – Savings Credit
Who can claim it? Some people who are over 65 and on a modest income with some savings. You won’t be eligible for this element of Pension Credit if you reach State Pension age after 6 April 2016.
How much (per week)? Up to £13.20 for single people or £14.90 for couples.
We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI and our local Age UK partners in England (together the Age UK Family). We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.
Age UK believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances. We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well-being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle.
Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group (“we”). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity’s trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).