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Older Scots urged to claim council tax help

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​Thousands are not getting financial breaks they're entitled to

Age Scotland has urged thousands of older people not to miss out on vital council tax support.

The charity wants to ensure some of the country's poorest pensioner households do not miss out on financial support they are entitled to receive when claiming council tax.

New figures show that up to 17,000 lower income pensioner households are missing out on help they can get through the Scottish Government's lower Income exemption scheme and could be struggling unnecessarily.

The lower Income exemption scheme was introduced in April 2017 to mitigate council tax rises. But fewer than 4% of eligible households are claiming the support, according to figures obtained by the Scottish Labour Party through a freedom of information request.

Local councils and the Scottish Government should also be doing more to make people aware of the help that is available to them, the charity maintains.

Adam Stachura, Age Scotland's head of policy and communications, said: "It's very disappointing that around 17,000 of the poorest pensioner households could be missing out on this extra help.

“Too many older people are struggling to get by on a low income, worrying about paying for essentials such as food and fuel bills.

“Lower income households, including pensioners, have been hardest hit by council tax increases and this support could make a difference to their quality of life.”

Scottish Labour’s social security spokesperson, Mark Griffin said: “Over 50,000 households were meant to benefit from this exemption from higher council tax charges, but just a handful actually are.

“Struggling families and pensioners are missing out of key support and facing massive council tax bills as a result.

“Just days after voting down plans to top-up child benefit by £5 per week these figures show once again the SNP like to talk the talk on poverty, they aren’t up to the job of helping Scotland’s poorest.

“We need to see more action from the SNP to boost take-up, and getting people the support they deserve."

People can find out if they are eligible by calling Age Scotland free helpline on 08001244222 for a benefits' check.