‘Benefits going unclaimed’

Pensioners enjoy Eastbourne beach and pier. July 24th 2012 E30065N
Pensioners enjoy Eastbourne beach and pier. July 24th 2012 E30065N

Thousands of Eastbourne’s poorest pensioners may be living in unnecessary poverty, a charity has said.

Independent Age said 2,400 of the town’s older generation were affected as vital benefits go unclaimed.

It added 38 per cent of the older generation, around 1.6 million nationwide, are failing to claim Pension Credit, an important basic benefit that is intended to top up the pensions of the poorest to at least £145.40 a week.

The charity has launched a free ‘Wise Guide’ book to help the town’s poorest pensioners put more cash in their pockets.

Victoria Richards, head of advice and support at Independent Age, said, “With rising prices a huge source of anxiety to many pensioners, Pension Credit really can make all the difference to those in later life.

“In some cases, it can also passport pensioners to other benefits such as council tax and housing benefit. And when claimed with Attendance Allowance, it can almost double some people’s incomes.

“But it does have to be claimed – and our new Wise Guide shows you how.”

The Wise Guide is the first in a series of books, which includes information for the over-65s.

It covers issues ranging from income and finance to getting help at home, health and fitness and even information for carers – making it a vital resource for pensioners, whatever their income, and also for concerned family members.

There are two types of Pension Credit, a Guarantee Credit is income-based and tops up weekly income if it’s below £145.40 (for single people) or £222.05 (for couples) to these levels. A Savings Credit is for people aged 65 and over and provides extra money if you have savings or an income higher than the basic state pension.

The town’s MP Stephen Lloyd called on his constituents who could be entitled to pensions credit to look into the matter, adding, “I wholly support Independent Age’s initiative.

“Every pensioner in our town who thinks they may be entitled to receive pensions credit should get hold of the charity’s free booklet explaining how.

“I remember doing a huge push on this issue years ago before I became the MP and though many older local residents took up what they were due, clearly many are still losing out.

“Well done Independent Age for publicising this important issue.”

The charity Independent Age provides an information and advice service for older people, their families and carers.

Areas it focuses on include social care, welfare benefits and befriending services.

Its Wise Guides are free and can be ordered online at http://www.independentage.org/advice/order-your-wise-guides/ and over the phone on 0845 262 1863.

For more information about the charity go to: www.independentage.org