ARE YOU MISSING OUT ON VITAL SUPPORT?
The latest analysis from the charity Independent Age estimates that 1331 older people in North Ayrshire and Isle of Arran missed out on £186,000 of Warm Home Discount towards their energy bills last year.
This figure is calculated based on the number of people in later life estimated in North Ayrshire and Arran who are eligible for, but currently do not receive, the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (one of the two elements of Pension Credit). The Warm Home Discount Scheme enables people receiving Guaranteed Pension Credit to get a one-off discount of £140 off their electricity bill each year.
Independent Age estimates that 630,000 people across the U.K. miss out on Guaranteed Pension Credit every year - while up to 1 million people miss out on Pension Credit as a whole.
In the depths of a cold winter, and when older people are having to spend more time at home due to the pandemic, a well heated home is vital to good health. We hear all too often that older people living in poverty often are forced to make difficult decisions like choosing between heating their homes and eating healthily. These issues are exacerbated by the rising cost of bills and day-to-living during the pandemic.
Pension Credit acts as a gateway benefit and not only opens entitlement to the Warm Home Discount but to a range of other essential benefits including the free TV license for over 75s, free NHS prescriptions, winter fuel payments, and many others. Previous research from Independent Age has estimated that the combined value of these benefits could mean that people in later life not receiving Pension Credit could be missing out on up to £7,000 a year.
Pension Credit has the lowest uptake of any income related benefit and hasn’t increased above 64% over the past 10 years. Uptake has remained low across successive governments of different parties.
There has to be a written strategy on Pension Credit uptake to tackle this urgent issue and ensure that everyone entitled to Pension Credit receives it alongside the other vital entitlements that accompany it. This new strategy should be delivered over the course of this parliament and include: a commitment to new research into who is missing out on Pension Credit; continuous, targeted awareness raising communications; consideration of innovative change including the trialling of auto-enrolment.
To apply for Pension Credit, please call the Pension Credit Claim Line on 0800 99 1234 or visit www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim