People are being urged to check whether they are eligible for Pension Credit after it was revealed that 2,298 qualifying households are missing out in Trafford, on around £4.6 million in unclaimed benefit.
The calls from charity Independent Age, Trafford Council, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Greater Manchester Housing Providers come in the face of significant food, petrol and energy price rises, and fears that this will worsen in October when the next energy price cap rise comes into effect.
Pension Credit is a form of financial support which ‘tops-up’ the income of people over State Pension age who fall below an income threshold. The average additional weekly amount awarded in Greater Manchester was £64.13, or £3334 a year.
Many of those eligible could also unlock additional benefits worth thousands a year such as the Warm Home Discount, a free TV licence, Council Tax Reduction and free NHS dental treatment (full list of additional benefits below). Pension Credit also gives you access to the new cost of living payment worth £650 to help with energy bills if you claim before 18 August 2022.
Cllr Karina Carter, Trafford Council’s Executive Member for Adult Services, said:
“There are lots of people really struggling to make ends meet at the moment, so we want to make sure they get all the support they need.
This is money which people are entitled to and which can also open the door to range of extra benefits. I would urge people to check if they are entitled to Pension Credit as this could make a massive difference to their cost of living.”
New nationally representative polling by YouGov for Independent Age, the national older person’s charity, showed that 51% of 65-year-olds in the North of England were already cutting back on spending in spring, compared to last year.
The same polling showed that just 38% of those in the North on an income of under £20,000 a year would be likely to apply for Pension Credit if they were struggling financially. This is despite an average additional income of £3,300 a year for eligible applicants.
As part of the campaign to increase the numbers of people receiving Pension Credit, Independent Age is also running training sessions to staff in Greater Manchester to ensure front line staff understand the benefits of Pension Credit and can support people to check their eligibility. This is being offered to housing agency employees, social prescribers, local charities and community group workers.
Simon Hewett-Avison, Director of Services at Independent Age said:
“With the cost-of-living crisis set to get worse later in the year, it’s vital that people of state pension age check whether they are entitled to Pension Credit. The support you could be entitled to is sitting in a pot and going unclaimed.
It only takes a few minutes on the phone to check whether you’re eligible and the average applicant gets an additional £3,300 a year. However, even if you’re only entitled to £1 extra a week, you can then unlock a range of benefits that could be worth up to £7,000 a year.
We know from our research that some older people are making severe budgetary cuts just to survive. We’ve heard of people cutting out fresh fruit and veg from their shop, not seeing friends due to the expense of a cup of tea or delaying getting a new prescription. Accessing Pension Credit can help with these everyday expenses.”
Pension Credit additional benefits include:
- A free TV licence for over-75s, worth £159.00 per year (for colour tv).
- Free NHS dental treatment.
- Voucher towards buying glasses/contact lenses - worth £39 to £215 (depending on the prescription).
- Reduction in Council Tax of up to 100%.
- Warm Home Discount, worth £140 and rising to £150 from October.
- Cold Weather Payment - worth £25 a week in particularly cold winter weeks.
- Home insulation and boiler grants (worth thousands for some).
- Housing Benefit entitlement (possibly even free rent - depending on eligibility).
- Eligibility for the government’s £650 Cost of Living payment for those on means tested benefits.
- Some companies offer additional reductions for those on Pension Credit, including reduced broadband/call charges and reduced water bills.
For more information on Pension Credit, visit www.independentage.org
Posted on Monday 15th August 2022