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AGE UK WESTMINSTER URGES LOCAL PEOPLE TO GET IN TOUCH AS FIGURES SHOW OVER TWO MILLION UK PENSIONERS ARE LIVING IN POVERTY WITH BLACK AND ASIAN OLDER PEOPLE MOST AT RISK

Len Goodman and Rustie Lee back Age UK’s call for pensioners to check their eligibility for Pension Credit

The number of pensioners in poverty has now passed the two million mark,[i] with Black and Asian older people most at risk of struggling financially in later life, warns Age UK Westminster, as it urges any older person in Westminster who feels financially hard-pressed to check their eligibility for Pension Credit.

Pension Credit is a benefit that tops up low pensioner incomes, typically taking an older person who receives it above the poverty line. Being found to be eligible for Pension Credit also acts as a gateway to some other benefits, potentially transforming an older person’s standard of living.

Since 2013/14, the number of pensioners in poverty has risen by almost a third (31 per cent) from 1.6 million. Official figures[ii] show that a third of Asian older people (33 per cent) and just under a third of Black older people (30 per cent) in the UK live below the poverty line, compared to 16 per cent of White older people. The over-85s, renters, and single, female pensioners, are also at greater risk of poverty than the older population as a whole. The total number of older people living in poverty in the UK now stands at 2.1 million.[iii]

Despite these high numbers and recent government figures showing that nearly a million older people could not afford an unexpected bill of £200,[iv] nearly a million (920,000) pensioner households are missing out on Pension Credit payments worth up to £1.6 billion every year[v] – that’s an average of £32 a week, or over £1,600 a year, per recipient.

Age UK Westminster case study:

Mrs. M is a 75 pensioner who is originally from Tanzania. She worked in the UK for 24 years before her health problems started. She has family who live in Sheffield but they are too far away to offer any physical support. Mrs. M suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis in all her joints, heart problems and spinal pain which affects her mobility. She was referred to AUKW by her GP who suggested that she might entitled to some disability benefits. She was struggling to carry out her household tasks such as cleaning, cooking and shopping. She couldn’t afford to pay a carer/ home help.

Action taken/ support provided:

Due to covid restrictions Mrs. M’s appointment was via telephone. AUKW’s adviser carried out a benefit check, which determined that she was eligible to apply for Attendance Allowance due to her health conditions and Pension credit because she was living on a state pension of just £95.40 a week. She was on low income and struggling financially. The adviser assisted Mrs. M to make the claim for both benefits. The adviser was very patient with Ms. M, which put her at ease.

Outcomes:

Mrs. M. was awarded Attendance Allowance at the higher rate of £89.60 weekly with a backdated amount of £537.60. She was also awarded Pension credit of £242.30 weekly, including the severe disability premium because she lives alone and there is no one receiving Carers’ Allowance for taking care of her.

Social Policy impact on the client:

Mrs. M was extremely happy with the outcome, she was able to get a carer who came to assist her with her household tasks two times a week.  She had the financial means to remain independent in her home and was in control of her care. Her family were also happy that they didn’t have to worry about her anymore. Mrs. M has already told her friends about the assistance that AUKW provides. She said, “I have gone back to my GP to thank him once again for referring me to AUKW. You do a fantastic job for the elderly in the community.”

Age UK Westminster is urging all pensioners who are struggling to make ends meet to put in a claim for Pension Credit – a means-tested, tax-free benefit for pensioners that opens the door to many other potential benefits including:

  • A free TV licence (if also over-75)
  • Help with Council Tax
  • Free NHS dental treatment and help towards the cost of glasses and travel to hospital
  • A Cold Weather Payment of £25 when the temperature is 0°C or below for 7 days in a row
  • Help with rent
  • An extra payment within Pension Credit for carers, worth up to £37.70 a week

Age UK Ambassadors, Len Goodman and Rustie Lee, are supporting the Charity’s call for older people to find out if they are entitled to Pension Credit.

Len Goodman: “Older people are so resilient and tend to know how to make do, but it doesn’t have to be like that for those who are struggling to manage day-to-day bills. 

“Pension Credit is a benefit for low-income pensioners to help cover the costs of later life.  Lots of people don’t even know it exists, meaning almost a million older households are not getting the extra money they are entitled to.  For those that have claimed, it can mean being able to stick the heating on for longer or having the money to buy essentials for their home to keep well and safe. 

“That’s why I’m supporting Age UK’s efforts to raise more awareness about this benefit.  There’s help out there and Age UK can support older people throughout the whole process – from information gathering to form filling.  Please… I would urge anyone who’s watching the pennies to find out more and see if they can make a claim.  Pension Credit not only gives you more money each week, it can also be a gateway to other help too.”

Rustie Lee: “It’s so important for everyone who’s feeling the pinch at the moment to see if they might be entitled to claim some extra help. It’s just shocking that so many older people can’t afford the basics such as decent, healthy food or keeping their house nice and warm.

“Pension Credit is a really important benefit that can make a big difference to older people on a budget, giving them a bit of extra cash to pay for things that most people for granted. I’d urge any older person who is struggling to make ends meet at the moment to speak to Age UK to find out if they could be eligible for Pension Credit, it could make all the difference and open the door to lots of other financial support too. There’s absolutely nothing to lose by making a claim!”

Mehfuz Ahmed, Age UK Westminster CEO, said: There is a positive social impact on the individual following an award of Pension Credit and one can contact Age UK Westminster anytime to see if they are eligible for pension credit or any other benefits.” 

Any older person who is worried about money and/ or who may be entitled to claim benefits should contact Age UK by calling its national advice line free of charge on 0800 169 65 65 (8am-7pm), visiting www.ageuk.org.uk/money or contacting their local Age UK for free information and advice.

You can also contact Age UK Westminster here:

020 3004 5610 / enquiries@ageukwestminster.org.uk

To make a claim, people should call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234 or visit www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim.

[i] DWP (25 March 2021). Households below average income: for financial years ending 1995 to 2020. Summary Results, Table 1.6b. (figures are for relative low income after housing costs). https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020

[ii] DWP (25 March 2021). Households below average income: for financial years ending 1995 to 2020. Data Tables, pensioners-hbai-detailed-breakdown-2019-20-tables, Table 6.5db. (figures are relative for low income after housing costs). https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020

[iii] DWP (25 March 2021). Households below average income: for financial years ending 1995 to 2020. Summary Results, Table 1.6b. (figures are for relative low income after housing costs). https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020

[iv] DWP (25 March 2021). Households below average income: for financial years ending 1995 to 2020. Data Tables, pensioners-hbai-detailed-breakdown-2019-20-tables, Table 6.11db_AHC.  https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020. Scaled up to UK population figures using ONS Mid-2019 Population Estimates (Mid-2019: April 2020 local authority district codes), https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/datasets/populationestimatesforukenglandandwalesscotlandandnorthernireland)

[v] DWP (29 October 2020). Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up 2018-19. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/income-related-benefits-estimates-of-take-up--2

Ref: hs.amd.sw.ew.lf.ca

Notes to editors:

DWP (25 March 2021). Households below average income: for financial years ending 1995 to 2020. Summary Results, Table 1.6b. (figures are for relative low income after housing costs). https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020

DWP (25 March 2021). Households below average income: for financial years ending 1995 to 2020. Data Tables, pensioners-hbai-detailed-breakdown-2019-20-tables, Table 6.5db. (figures are relative for low income after housing costs). https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020

DWP (25 March 2021). Households below average income: for financial years ending 1995 to 2020. Summary Results, Table 1.6b. (figures are for relative low income after housing costs). https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020

DWP (25 March 2021). Households below average income: for financial years ending 1995 to 2020. Data Tables, pensioners-hbai-detailed-breakdown-2019-20-tables, Table 6.11db_AHC.  https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020. Scaled up to UK population figures using ONS Mid-2019 Population Estimates (Mid-2019: April 2020 local authority district codes), https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/datasets/populationestimatesforukenglandandwalesscotlandandnorthernireland)

DWP (29 October 2020). Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up 2018-19. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/income-related-benefits-estimates-of-take-up--2