This is a continuation of my blogs on welfare benefits. ( You can see all the posts on this subject by clicking on “Welfare Benefits “ in the Tag Cloud )
I have been reading, researching and writing about welfare benefits for over a month now and I’m still not sure I’m any the wiser. There is a mine of Government information and a plethora of reports, all endeavouring to explain one aspect or other of the benefits system. On me, most of the effort has failed. If anything there is too much information!
It is estimated by the charity TURN2US that the amount of unclaimed benefits could be as high as £15billion. Obviously not all of this relates to older people, but a conservative estimate by Age UK suggests that there is over £5.5billion of unclaimed retirement benefits.
Here are some overall benefits facts that support this :-
- Pension Credit – the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) itself suggests that 30% of pensioners failed to claim their entitlement to this, which is worth around £151 per week or £230 for a couple.
- Council Tax Reduction – is supposed to happen automatically, but only if you claim Pension Credit in the first place.
- Housing Benefit – which pays for some or all of the rent for people in the public and private sectors, is means tested and should trigger a “passport” to other benefits.
- Attendance Allowance – this has a reputation of being difficult to get but is worth between £55 and £82 a week. So you really need to get expert help if you think you qualify.
- Carer’s Allowance – this is worth £62 a week if you look after someone who qualifies.
- Winter Fuel Payment – between £100 and £300 annually paid automatically if you claim a state pension.
Means tested benefits take-up :-
- The Department for Work and Pensions data for 2014/15 suggests that pension credit had only a 69% rate of take-up.
- This means around 1.4 million people did not claim pension credit.
- This amounts to £3.1billion unclaimed in total.
- Or put another way, an average of £2,000 a year for an individual.
What all these figures mean to me is that there’s a heck of a lot of room for improvement. What if we found a way of cutting through the red tape?
In fact if we could get a 100% of take-up by pensioners, it could provide them with £5.5billion of extra income.
FOOTNOTE – Please note, I hasten to add that I am no expert and anyone reading this should not take my observations or figures as fact. Hopefully before I finish this series of blogs, I will have raised awareness of some of the issues in the welfare benefits system. If you’re intending to make a claim, you should go to one of the trusted agencies like Age UK or Citizens Advice Bureau.