Nearly one in three over-65s in Wales are struggling financially, compared to one in four older people in the UK according to new research, yet an estimated £3.5 billion in Pension Credit and Housing Benefit alone goes unclaimed each year.
With the latest government figures showing that pensioner poverty is on the rise – with 112,500 pensioners in Wales now living below the poverty line and median incomes for both single and pensioner couples in Wales at the bottom of regional comparisons, Age Cymru is urging older people to get in touch to find out if they’re entitled to some extra financial support.
UK government figures show that one in 10 people aged 65+ would not be able to pay an unexpected expense of £200, to replace a broken washing machine for example. Yet millions of older people who are struggling to survive on a low income could be entitled to benefits such as Pension Credit, which has slightly increased this month and could provide a much-needed boost to their weekly income if claimed. In fact, if people who are eligible for Pension Credit make a claim, it could increase their income by an average of £42 a week – that’s £2,184 a year.
Age Cymru publishes a range of free guides to help people navigate the benefits system and has trained advisers on hand all year round to offer support. The Charity has just updated its More money in your pocket guide to reflect benefit changes which came into effect earlier this month; the guide 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. In addition many older disabled people could receive extra support by claiming the non-means-tested Attendance Allowance. The Charity also publishes mini-guides covering Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance, Carers Allowance and Council Tax – all available free of charge by calling Age Cymru Advice on 08000 223444.
Ian Thomas, Chief Executive of Age Cymru, said:
“Managing on a low, fixed income is really tough, and many people face a daily struggle just to afford the basics. That’s why is it so important that every older person who is entitled to claim benefits does so. Every day Age Cymru 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.
“It is shameful that despite millions of older people struggling financially, around £3.5 billion in money benefits remains unclaimed every year when this extra income could make a huge difference to their lives. We would urge anyone who is worried about their finances, or an older family member or friend, to get in touch with us for free, impartial information and advice.
To order a free copy of any of Age Cymru’s guides, or for further information and advice on any issue, people should call Age Cymru Advice free of charge on 08000 223444, contact their local Age Cymru, or visit www.agecymru.org.uk.
A brief summary of benefit rates for April 2017/18
Who can claim it? Most people aged 65 or over who have personal care needs or require supervision to keep safe.
How much (per week)? £55.65 if you need help in the day or at night. £83.10 if you need help in the day and at night.
Who can claim it? Many people who care for someone with a disability or health problem for at least 35 hours a week.
How much (per week)? £62.70. If you are receiving your State Pension check your position – it is not paid on top of the State Pension but there may still be advantages to claiming.
Who can claim it? Most people on a low income who rent their home.
How can it help? Amount varies, but may cover your rent in full (this is especially likely if you receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit).
Pension Credit – Guarantee Credit
Who can claim it? Most people on a low income. The qualifying age is increasing and was 63 years and nine months in April 2017.
How much (per week)? Amount varies, but tops up your income to at least £159.35 for single people and £243.25 for couples.
Pension Credit – Savings Credit
Who can claim it? Some people who are over 65 and on a modest income with some savings. You won’t be eligible for this element of Pension Credit if you reach State Pension age after 6 April 2016.
How much (per week)? Up to £13.20 for single people or £14.90 for couples.
- Age Cymru works nationally and locally through its network of independent local Age Cymru partners.
- Age Cymru is committed to achieving an age friendly Wales where older people have equal rights to respect, opportunities and the same access to services as the rest of the population.
- Age Cymru is the national charity for older people in Wales.
- We are the force combining Age Concern Cymru and Help the Aged in Wales.
- Age affects us all in different ways. We cannot promise good health, but we should be able to ensure good care for all of us. When we find loneliness, we will reach out. When age becomes a burden, we will lighten the load.
- Age Cymru will campaign. We will fundraise. We will research. We will make the powers that be listen.
- Age Cymru is a registered charity 1128436.
- Company limited by guarantee and registered by in England and Wales 6837284.
- Registered office address: Tŷ John Pathy, 13/14 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff, CF24 5PJ.
- We work with local Age Cymru Partners across Wales to improve life for older people.
- Age Cymru is funded by donations from the public, corporate partners, our retail and trading enterprises and the Welsh Government.
- www.agecymru.org.uk www.facebook.com/agecymru www.twitter.com/agecymru