One in four pensioners struggling as £billions go unclaimed
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Finance, Housing
Charities welcome major study into abuse of elderly
A quarter of over-65s are struggling financially despite up to £5.5 billion in financial help going unclaimed every year, according to new research for Age UK.
And with figures from its 'Chief Economist’s Report 'also revealing that a quarter of all over-65s feel financially worse off compared with this time last year, and a third worried about the general cost of living, the charity is warning that much more must be done to get vital benefits cash to those who need it.
The government’s own figures show that one in 10 pensioners would not be able to pay an unexpected expense of £200 - to replace a broken washing machine for example - and half of those who could afford to pay would have to dip into their savings to do so.
Yet millions of older people who are struggling to survive on a meagre income could be entitled to benefits such as pension credit, which if claimed could provide a boost to their weekly income.
According to Age UK, if everyone eligible for pension credit made a claim, it could increase their income by an average of £1,716 a year – which would more than cover the average dual-fuel bill which currently stands at £1,271 a year.
Compounding the misery of living in poverty, many of the poorest pensioners also have to pay more for other services such as gas, electricity, insurance and banking, the charity has warned.
Age UK’s has updated its ‘More money in your pocket’ guide which 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. Additionally, many older disabled people could receive extra support by claiming the non-means-tested attendance allowance.
Age UK’s charity director, Caroline Abrahams, said: “Managing on a low, fixed income is really tough, and many people face a daily struggle just to afford the basics.
“That is 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.
“We want any older person who is worried about money to contact us in case they are one of the millions who are entitled to extra help. Everyone should have the opportunity to be able to make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances.”