When Pension Credit was first introduced by the Government, it was one of the least understood benefits for older people and it remains so to this day. It is supposed to ensure the poorest pensioners are guaranteed a higher level of income than just the basic state pension. However because of the confusion about who is entitled to it, pension credit is probably the most under-claimed entitlement. All Governments pay lip service to promoting benefits, but they care little about the under-claiming because it saves money on the welfare bill.
Thanks to a recently published report by Independent Age, this situation has been exposed, but I wonder how many headlines it will get. Not many I suspect, given the frequently trumpeted view that pensioners are better off than ever.
The report is entitled “The Overlooked Over 75s”. Here are some of the report’s key findings:-
- Older pensioners’ incomes are on average £59 a week lower than younger pensioners and £112 a week lower than working age adults;
- A fifth of those aged 75 and over are living below the poverty line;
- Over 75’s are twice as likely as under 75’s to have been in poverty for the last four years.
The people this affects are often called the “silent generation” because having lived through the second world war and also for some the deprivations of the 1930’s, they don’t complain, they don’t think the world owes them a living, and they don’t like living off the state, so they often don’t claim benefits.
- Nearly three-quarters of a million over 75’s have no source of income other than state pension and benefits. Nearly a quarter of single women aged 75 (400,000 women) are completely reliant on state financial support.
- Over 75’s are less likely than younger pensioners to receive Pension Credit when they are eligible. Of the 1.9 million who are estimated to be eligible, around 750,000 people don’t claim it (39%).
It is hardly surprising when benefit forms are complicated, confusing and poorly communicated. When more and more information is on-line and unavailable to non-tech savvy older people.
Local Authority and Housing Association landlords, who provide the majority of the UK’s retirement housing, should re-double their efforts to ensure this often unappreciated generation get their full benefit.
My thanks to the Charity Independent Age for producing this report from which most of my blog is taken. I very much hope it gets the publicity it deserves and that my post helps broadcast it a little further.