Mayor urges pensioners not to miss out on Pension Credit

21 January 2014
  • 180,000 older Londoners could be living in poverty 4
  • 2,000 carers also missing out on crucial benefits
  • Mayor urges them to claim what they are entitled to

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson is urging pensioners and carers to check that they are receiving all the benefits they are entitled to as part of this year's Know Your Rights campaign.

The Greater London Authority estimates that around 180,000 older Londoners could be living in poverty and one in three are missing out on Pension Credit worth an average £21a week, or £1,092 a year, simply because they are unaware they are eligible for it, or because they feel too embarrassed to make a claim. This is money that can make a real difference, when it comes to being able to heat their homes during the winter months and budgeting for the weekly food shop.

Pension Credit is one of a number of benefits that pensioners and other vulnerable groups in London could be eligible for that could have a positive impact on their lives. 42,000 Londoners are also estimated to missing out on Carer's Allowance worth up to £59.75 a week.

Know Your Rights is a multi-agency campaign run in partnership with Age UK, Citizens Advice, and Carers Trust, which aims to help reduce the number of carers and older Londoners who are living in poverty, by providing up to date information and advice. It is also supported by Carers UK, London Councils, DWP's Pensions, Disability and Carers Service and the Association of London Chief Librarians.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'One in three pensioners are not claiming Pension Credit, a vital benefit that will make a big difference to their lives, particularly during the cold winter months. It is critical that they have access to the right information about what they can claim. I am urging them and carers across the capital to seek advice now and ensure they get all the benefits and support that they are eligible for.'

Launching this year's campaign, the Deputy Mayor of London Victoria Borwick said: 'It is sad that an estimated 180,000 older Londoners could be struggling because they do not know what benefits they can claim. The Know Your Rights campaign is providing an army of people who are there to help you, so get on the phone now to Age UK or Carers UK and look out for information at GP surgeries and libraries.'

Chief Executive of Age UK London Samantha Mauger said: 'We can’t accept the possibility of 180,000 older Londoners potentially struggling to pay their bills or having to choose between food and fuel, without knowing about the extra help they could get. Age UK London welcomes the Know Your Rights campaign and we urge older Londoners to call the helpline and ensure they get advice on what benefits they are entitled to receive.'

Carers UK Chief Executive Heléna Herklots said: 'Caring for a loved one can take a huge financial toll on family finances. Yet many carers miss out on vital support, sometimes for years, and are pushed into financial hardship and debt. Anyone who is caring for an older parent or another ill or disabled relative should get in touch with Carers UK ensure they have the right advice on the financial and practical support available.'

Older Londoners and carers can call Age UK, or contact their local Citizens Advice Bureaux for advice about benefits and other support they might be able to claim. The Age UK helpline is 0800 169 6565 and they are hosting information and advice sessions at local centres around the capital from 27 January to the end of April. Carers UK’s Adviceline is on 0808 808 7777. 3,000 staff and volunteers based in 157 libraries across 33 boroughs will also be supporting the campaign, directing potential claimants to local sources of advice.

PENSION CREDIT & CARER BENEFITS

• Based on figures from the Department for Work and Pensions, the Greater London Authority estimates that older Londoners miss out on more than £410million in unclaimed benefits.

• You could be eligible for Pension Credit if you are a single pensioner and your pension is less than £145.40, or if you are couple and your joint pension is less than £222.05.

• Those entitled to claim Pension Credit and other benefits may also be entitled to additional financial help with their fuel bills, including: - the Warm Home Discount, worth £135 a year - Cold Weather Payment of £25 per year - Discounts on their energy bills, or a reduced energy tariff

• Based on a national take up rate of 65%, Carers UK estimates that 42,038 carers in London are missing out on Carers Allowance.

• If you are a carer looking after someone for at least 35 hours a week you could be eligible for £59.75 per week.

 

Notes to editors

1. The Age UK helpline 0800 169 6565 is open from 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

2. Carers UK's Adviceline 808 808 7777 is open 10am-4pm, Monday to Friday.

3. The Greater London Authority estimates for 2008/9 to 2011/12 that 18 per cent of pensioners in London are living in poverty, using the government’s measure of having an income below 60 per cent of the national median for the same type of household, after housing costs are taken into account - this is 180,000 people. In 2011/2012 there were 2,800 excess winter deaths in London. The majority (1,500) were of people aged 85 or over. The rate in London, 18.9 per cent was higher in 2011/12 than in any other region in England and Wales where the average was 15.4 per cent.

4. Pension Credit - There are two parts of Pension Credit – older people may be eligible to receive one or both of them. Guarantee Credit tops up weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level set up by the Government. Savings Credit is extra money for people who have an income higher than the Basic State Pension or who have a small amount of savings. The minimum age to qualify for guarantee credit is gradually rising from age 60 to 66. The current minimum age is 65. Pension Credit is means-tested so income and savings are taken into account when it is worked out. Pension Credit includes help towards mortgage payments and service charges for home owners and extra money for people who receive Carers Allowance or disability benefits. It's worth claiming Pension Credit even if you are only entitled to a small amount, as it can help you qualify for other benefits.

5. As well as state pension, the main payments for pensioners are the winter fuel payment, freedom pass for travel, a free TV licence at age 75 and like other groups including children and people with certain medical conditions free prescriptions and eye tests. Older people may also be entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Credit.

6. Age UKs across London will be running several awareness-raising events across London aimed at helping older people with finding out if they are eligible for benefits. The first of several information and advice events is taking place at Age UK Hackney (East London) on 30 January from 11-3pm. See Age UK London's website for a list of all events: www.ageuk.org.uk/london

7. Carers UK's website includes advice and information on accessing financial, practical and emotional support with caring for an older or disabled loved one and support for families juggling work and care – visit www.carersuk.org