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Published on 16 November 2017 09:30 AM

Too many older people are not aware of the benefits and other financial help available, according to Age Scotland.

Scotland’s leading charity for older people is aiming to bust popular misconceptions about personal finance to mark Financial Capability Week.

Its advisors are travelling the country, offering Money Matters roadshows to local groups throughout Scotland. Groups and organisations can request the free sessions on a topic of their choice, including Benefits, Planning for Change, Care Costs, Power of Attorney, and Wills and Funeral Planning.

Their specialist advisors have already delivered more than 50 roadshows, reaching more than 800 people. Their aim is to encourage people to talk about money, plan ahead, and apply for all the benefits they are entitled to.

While most older people say they have “peace of mind” over their finances, a quarter of their survey respondents said they could not repair a broken washing machine from their savings without cutting back on day-to-day expenses. Only half knew which benefits are available to older people or how to find out if they are entitled to any benefits.

The most common financial misconceptions include:
-    MYTH: Pension credit is difficult to apply for and many claims are rejected.
-    FACT: Thousands of older Scots aren’t claiming the pension credit they’re entitled to, with £2.2 billion going unclaimed every year.
-    MYTH: You can’t claim council tax reduction if you own your home.
-    FACT: Council tax reduction can be claimed even if you’re a homeowner – and people with dementia can be entitled to an exemption.
-    MYTH: You can’t claim attendance allowance if you have savings or your income is too high.
-    FACT: People aged over 65 with a disability can claim attendance allowance no matter their income or savings.
-    MYTH: A funeral plan will cover the entire costs of a funeral.
-    FACT: Not all plans are guaranteed to cover all costs, and many families are left paying the shortfall. It’s advisable to check the small print and ask questions before buying one.
-    MYTH: Power of Attorney means signing away your rights to make your own decisions.
-    FACT: Granting Power of Attorney means that someone else will only make decisions on your behalf if you lose the capacity to do so by illness or injury.

Keith Robson, Age Scotland’s Charity Director, said: “Our research suggests that one in five Scottish pensioners are struggling to get by, yet many are still not aware of the help that’s available. Having talked to older people up and down the country, we’ve seen how many myths and misconceptions there still are about benefits and finances.

“Taking control of your money is important at any age, but it’s especially vital for people who are retired and living on a fixed income. The fact that one in four respondents would struggle to replace a broken washing machine shows that how many pensioners are living on very tight budgets. Simply taking a few minutes to find out if you’re eligible for Pension Credit or other assistance can make a huge difference to your quality of life.

“At the same time, many of us put off decisions such as Power of Attorney, making a will or funeral planning. Thinking about these in advance can give you peace of mind, although hopefully they won’t be needed for a long time.

“We’d encourage any older people’s group to take advantage of our free Money Matters roadshows and help its members stay informed. Alternatively, anyone can call our helpline free of charge, and one of our friendly advisors will talk through any money concerns they have.”

If your group is interested in a free Money Matters session in December, then contact the team at Age Scotland on 0333 323 2400 or email moneymatters@agescotland.org.uk