Hundreds of local pensioners on low incomes are missing out on the social security payments which could lift them out of poverty, while thousands more could be entitled to further financial support in later life.
The latest figures from the Scottish Government highlight the fact that 150,000 pensioners across the country are living in poverty. An estimated £332m of Pension Credit, designed to boost the income of older people on a low State Pension and lift them out of poverty, goes unclaimed in Scotland every year. Pension Credit is one of the most underclaimed benefits with four in ten eligible pensioners missing out on what they are due. It is also the route to keep a free TV licence if you are over 75.
Martin Whitfield MSP is supporting Age Scotland’s new “Check in, Cash out” campaign, calling on local older people to find out if they are missing out on financial support available to help reduce pensioner poverty and live well in later life.
Older people, their families, and carers can check that they are getting everything they are entitled to by contacting Age Scotland’s confidential 0800 12 44 222 helpline, finding more information in their free social security information guides, or by attending one of their upcoming online social security awareness workshops.
Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“I found it incredible to hear from Age Scotland that so many pensioners are missing out on Pension Credit and other vital social security. They are living on very low incomes or in poverty, but not claiming what they are entitled to whether through a lack of awareness, barriers to claiming, or feeling that they are coping fine as it is.
“It’s so important that older people receive this support when they need it. After all, they have been contributing towards it throughout their lives. But it’s not just Pension Credit that older people are missing out on: Council Tax Reduction, Attendance Allowance for those with a disability, Carer’s Allowance and support for energy bills are available but aren’t being accessed.
“I want to make sure people know what support is available to them should they need it. I’d encourage my constituents over the age of 50 to call Age Scotland’s 0800 12 44 222 helpline to check they’re not missing out.”
Age Scotland’s chief executive Brian Sloan said:
“The astonishing amounts of unclaimed social security such as Council Tax Reduction and Pension Credit could be making a real difference to the lives of those older people on low incomes, driving down levels of poverty and boosting their wellbeing.
“Age Scotland’s helpline identified more than £600,000 in unclaimed social security for older people last year but that is clearly just the tip of the iceberg. Every year hundreds of millions of pounds in vital financial support is missed by those who are unaware it exists, don’t know where to turn for help to claim, are locked out as they aren’t online, or feel stigma about needing this help.
“We launched the ‘Check in, Cash out’ campaign to help older people better understand the financial support available to them through our free information guides and eligibility checks from our helpline.
“Social security is not just for older people on low incomes. If you have a disability or illness or care for someone, you could also be missing out on extra help.
“We would urge older people to call our helpline on 0800 12 44 222 to find out if they are receiving all the social security support they are entitled to. Please don’t hesitate to check in, as you may well be entitled to cash out on additional financial support.”
The Age Scotland helpline is available on 0800 12 44 222 for free eligibility checks, as well as advice and free guides on Council Tax Reduction and other social security such as Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance.
Older people who are online can take part in Age Scotland’s benefit awareness sessions for free via Zoom. These are taking place on 5th and 21st August, and 1st September. Register at www.age.scot/benefitsworkshop