Age Scotland has enlisted the help of Strictly legend Len Goodman to help Scots claim what they're entitled to
Older Scots are missing out on hundreds of millions in extra financial support, a charity has revealed.
The number of pensioners in poverty has now passed the two million mark across the UK, with 150,000 in Scotland living in relative poverty and thousands more on the cusp, warns Age Scotland as it urges any older person who feels financially hard-pressed to check their eligibility for Pension Credit.
Len Goodman has joined Age Scotland’s call and is urging pensioners to check their entitlement.
The national charity for older people says that Pension Credit, a benefit that tops up low pensioner incomes, is one of the most underclaimed means of social security support for older people.
In many cases, claiming Pension Credit can also “passport” older people to other sources of financial support which can make an even bigger difference – such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Cold Weather Payments, a free TV licence for those over 75, and help with health costs.
Levels of pensioner poverty in Scotland have begun to rise again in recent years. For example, the proportion of pensioners in persistent poverty has risen from 8% to 12% since 2010.
Despite these rising figures, it is estimated that 40% of eligible pensioners on low incomes are still missing out on Pension Credit. That means £332m of financial support is going unclaimed by 123,000 older households in Scotland.
With 14% of pensioners (150,000) living in relative poverty and 12% (120,000) in persistent poverty, Age Scotland says there must be a concerted effort to reduce pensioner poverty and that encouraging social security uptake has a huge part to play in this process.
Age Scotland’s chief executive Brian Sloan said: “We know that more than 120,000 pensioners aren’t claiming the social security support, such as Pension Credit, that they are entitled to. The support currently going unclaimed could make a real difference to older peoples’ quality of life and it’s so important that we find out what is standing in the way of people claiming and work to break down these barriers to help boost incomes.
“Through our free social security workshops, we have found that the majority of people are not aware of how much they could be entitled to through Pension Credit and this lack of awareness is clearly one of many barriers to take-up.
“If everyone eligible for Pension Credit knew about it and claimed it, it stands to reason that pensioner poverty in Scotland would drop dramatically.
“That’s why we want as many people as possible to get in touch to ensure they are claiming all the support they are entitled to. Please don’t hesitate to call 0800 12 44 222 for a free entitlement check.”
Len Goodman, ambassador of sister charity Age UK, is supporting the joint call to action: “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 efforts to raise more awareness about this benefit. There’s help out there 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.”
Any older person who is worried about money and/ or who may be entitled to claim benefits should contact the Age Scotland helpline for advice, information and a free benefits check on 0800 12 44 222 (Monday – Friday, 9am - 5pm).
Age Scotland’s information guides and their “Check in, Cash out” campaign are available online.