Nearly three million over-65s – that’s one in four – are struggling financially, according to new research from 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] – Age UK Oxfordshire 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]
Age UK Oxfordshire points to the 2011 census which details that 19,600 of those over 65 in Oxfordshire state that they “struggle with day-to-day activities a lot” but only 68% claim Attendance Allowance. Attendance allowance is a state benefit paid to disabled people who need constant care at home.
Penny Thewlis, Chief Executive at Age UK Oxfordshire, 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 Oxfordshire 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 find out if you, a friend or a relative could be missing out on an entitlement please gather some details regarding income and capital then contact Age UK Oxfordshire’s information and advice helpline on 0345 450 1276.