Check in, Cash out
Every year hundreds of millions of pounds in vital financial support go unclaimed by older people in Scotland.
Our "Check in, Cash out" campaign aims to raise awareness and increase take-up of the social security available to help older people live well.
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Why we are campaigning
There are 150,000 pensioners in Scotland living in poverty - with tens of thousands more on the cusp of it. A range of social security payments are available to help older people, including Pension Credit, Council Tax Reduction and Attendance Allowance.
However, many older people don't claim the financial support they're entitled to. There are a range of reasons why this is the case, including:
- lack of awareness
- stigma about social security
- the belief the money would be better used to help others
- the claims process involved
- digital exclusion
- not knowing where to find advice and support
We want people to "check in" to see if they may be entitled to "cash out" by calling our helpline and using our free information guides
Age Scotland's Helpline
In 2020, our helpline identified £493,350 worth of unclaimed benefits for older people who called us. Call us on 0800 12 44 222 today. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm.
How can Age Scotland help?
We can support older people to increase their awareness of social security and make sure they don't miss out on what they're entitled to:
1) Our helpline advisers can perform a benefits entitlement check and advise people on how to claim if they are missing out. It is free to call and lines are open from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. Call us today on 0800 12 44 222.
2) Our free guides provide information and advice on the relevant benefits for older people.
3) Sign up to our free online workshops covering social security for older people over State Pension age - book your place today.
Age Scotland's information guides
You can find more information about benefits and financial support using our free information guides
Social Security Spotlights
Throughout our campaign, we will feature several individual payments and themes in more depth as "spotlights". These will run for two months at a time.
- Pension Credit: February and March
- Council Tax Reduction: April and May
- Older carers: June and July
- Attendance Allowance: August and September
- Energy: October and November
- Looking out for older family and friends: December and January
You can find out more about each of the payments and themes we'll be spotlighting below:
Age Scotland's benefits training
Our two-hour free online training sessions cover means-tested and non-means-tested social security for people over State Pension age.
Pension Credit is one of the most underclaimed social security payments with an estimated 40% of eligible people missing out. Research by Independent Age has suggested there are 123,000 eligible older households in Scotland who are not claiming Pension Credit. This equates to £332m of support left unclaimed each year.
Claiming Pension Credit is important as it passports the recipient to other forms of financial support – such as Council Tax Reduction, Cold Weather Payments, additional help with health costs and a free TV Licence .
Council Tax Reduction
Council Tax Reduction (CTR) helps people who are on a low income with the cost of their Council Tax bill.
In 2020-21, the estimated average annual award per CTR recipient over 65 was £759.20. The average annual award figure was even higher for 60-64 year olds (£796.12), 55-59 year olds (£796.64) and 50-54 year olds (£795.60) - so it's worth checking that you're receiving it if you suspect you might be eligible.
We estimate that older people on low incomes missed out on over £93m worth of CTR support in 2020-21.
Despite the vast contribution made by unpaid carers to Scotland's economy and society, carers are often at higher risk of poverty.
Many over-50s care for friends, family members or neighbours. However, they may not see this as providing care, instead viewing it as 'just what they do'. We want to help these carers self-identify and take-up the forms of support available for them.
The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 gives carers the right to support from their council and support to help their health and wellbeing. Additionally, those who spend over 35 hours per week caring for a person in receipt of a qualifying disability benefit could be entitled to Carer's Allowance - though this benefit "overlaps" with the State Pension (you can find out more about this in our guide to Carer's Allowance).
Attendance Allowance is a payment for people over State Pension age who have a physical or mental disability which means that they need help with personal care or supervision. It is not means-tested, so you can apply regardless of how much income or savings you have.
You don't have to receive help from a carer to apply, as Attendance Allowance is based on the help you need, not the help you actually receive. Many people choose to spend the money on other types of help in the home to keep them independent.
1 in 3 older households in Scotland live in fuel poverty - meaning they either cannot afford to pay their energy bills or are having to modify energy usage to afford these costs.
If you're struggling to manage your energy bills or looking to make your home more energy efficient, we can help:
- Find out more about staying warm in your home in our Warm and Well guide.
- Contact our helpline for a benefits check to make sure you're getting every penny you're entitled to.
- Our helpline can also give you advice on energy and refer you to Home Energy Scotland (HES) for tailored support to reduce your bills and improve your home's energy efficiency - HES can also tell you if there's any funding available to help you do this.
Looking Out for Older Family and Friends
Family members, friends, and carers can find advice, information and support through our helpline and information guides. Family and friends can also play a big role in encouraging people to ask for help and make social security claims.