Welfare Benefits Survey

Over the last few months, I have been researching welfare benefits entitlements in the UK.  (You can see all my earlier posts by clicking on “Welfare Benefits” in the TAG CLOUD).  

The whole subject is immensely confusing and not at all helped by the frequent changes in the benefit system and the “titles” of individual benefits.  More and more benefits information is promoted through the internet, which makes it less and less available to the many older people who do not use the internet.  It is no surprise at all therefore, that a large amount of welfare benefits go unclaimed by many older people who are entitled to them.

In March I carried out a survey with the help of a small group of older people in Coventry.  It was more of a focus group than a survey and I don’t pretend that it represents anything other than a sample group, which may not be representative of all older people in Coventry.  Nonetheless, the results seem to reflect the picture shown by other analysis of the subject.

The results are split into four sections:-

  • Main Benefits
  • Disability Benefits
  • Weather Payments
  • Benefit Freebies

I will publish the results in these four sections over the next two weeks.

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Belated Spring Koan

It seems like I was a bit premature

Because the next day it rained as well.

Today the sun and the flowers rebelled

They decided, all on their own, that spring has sprung.

 

The Robin’s nesting

She can’t wait for the rain to stop.

Daffodils and redcurrants blooming

But no cherry blossom yet.

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Spring Koan

It’s spring, a time for growing,

for going out in the garden

and getting started on a new year of flowers,

but nobody told the rainmaker !

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Panama Canal Trip

I haven’t been out much this winter because of all the rain, so today I decided to travel to warmer climes.   I joined an American couple on a trip though the Panama Canal.    I have never been to that part of the world before, so it was interesting from that point of view.   Having said that it looked quite boring, just a load of docks, cranes and containers along most of the route.    A few tourist stop offs, but it mainly seemed a means of getting from one side of the world to another.   The Atlantic to the Pacific.

The French started to construct the canal in 1881, but gave up because of the difficulty caused by landslides and the constant problem of tropical disease.   The Americans restarted the project and completed it in 1914.    It took 56,000 men to build it at a cost of 5,600 lives.   The 48 miles of canal, a reservoir and six locks cost $350million.   Today 13,000 ships pass through it every day.

That started me thinking.  There are quite a few locks along the way.   Does that mean the Pacific Ocean is higher than the Atlantic ?   If so and you opened all the locks at the same time what would happen ?   These are some heavy weight questions to ponder on a rainy day in the UK winter.

If the Pacific is higher than the Atlantic would El Ninio flow into the Caribbean and then up the Atlantic drift ?   That could bring tropical storms, hurricanes, storm surges and maybe even a tidal wave to the UK.    To say nothing of the giant squid and man-eating sharks.   I do hope our weather men have done a risk assessment of someone accidentally leaving all the lock gates open.

Of course it could happen the other way around.   The Atlantic could drain into the Pacific, which could mean low-lying islands like Tahiti would be at risk of disappearing beneath the waves altogether.   Also our herring fishermen would have much further to go.    On the up side we might find out if Atlantis really did exist.

I am grateful to Sallie and Bill ? for allowing me to travel with them.    They have written about their travels since they retired in 1997, in their blog “ A full-time life”.     They  have travelled in an RV motor home all over the USA (except for two states) and have an interesting blog illustrated with some excellent photographs, which is well worth reading.    It is a brilliant example of how adventurous some people can be when they retire.

You can travel with them, just get on your cloud surf board.

 

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Super Delux Pension Supplement.

This is a continuation of my blogs on welfare benefits.   It directly follows on from the last post. ( You can see all the posts on this subject by clicking on “Welfare Benefits “ in the Tag Cloud ) 

The Last Laugh Looney Party is aware that its proposed higher pension for older people may be seen as too generous by the younger generation.

So it has a supplementary proposal to give older people a more inclusive role in society.

 

 

In exchange for  new Super Delux Pension all old people will be expected to work as a volunteer for ten hours a week.    That works out as equivalent to £2.62 an hour, which is not even the minimum wage.

Here are some of the things they can do :-

  • visiting the elderly who can’t get out and about
  • knitting woolly hats for pensioners in Scotland who no longer get winter fuel payments
  • teaching children to read and write
  • looking after very young children so there mums can go out to work
  • being a lollipop lady or man at school crossings
  • working free for any charity
  • visiting older people in hospital to help feeding them
  • serving on jury’s to lock up criminals who con them or burgle them in their homes or  mess up their neighbourhoods just hanging around making a nuisance of themselves.

Footnote.    Of course you may have noticed that a great many older people do these things already.   So at £2.65 an hour that more than pays for the extra SUPER DELUX PENSION SUPPLEMENT 😀

FOOTNOTE     This new system would obviously be open to abuse e.g. two old pensioners going down the pub every day would qualify.   So the civil servants at the Department of Work and SuperPensions came up with a control regulation just before they were made redundant.    To prove their qualifying hours are legitimate, pensioners would have to have their SUPER DELUX BENEFITS PASSPORT stamped by a retired civil servant.

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Super Delux Pension !

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 )   But now I am moving away from all the nitty gritty interminable detail of my earlier research, to come up with a Grand Plan 🙂

The Government has been totally consumed with Brexit for the last two years and is likely to be for two years to come.  This creates an opportunity for the Last Laugh Looney Party to steal a march on all the other political parties and propose a radical new approach to welfare benefits for older people.  

The LLLP 

“SUPER DELUX PENSION”

for all existing and new pensioners.

No forms, no qualifications, no messing.

 

With the assistance of Red Tape Man, all extra pensioner benefits will be scrapped.

This will mean that 24,756 civil servants will no longer be needed to check all the forms.

Their 4500 square feet of office space will be surplus to requirements and can be sold off for £billions to fund more retirement housing.

The SUPER DELUX PENSION will give every pensioner an extra £ 2,467 a year.

It should be worth quite a lot of votes at the next election.    Wealthy pensioners who didn’t want the extra money could donate it to the civil servants redundancy fund.

 

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.    

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The Overall Retirement Benefits Picture?

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.    

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