An expert claims households have lost £1,900 a year in unclaimed pension credit. Those who reach the legal retirement age, which is currently 66, can receive additional money through the pension credit if they have low incomes. The benefit payment tops up a claimant’s weekly income to £182.60 if single and their joint weekly income to £278.70 if they have a partner.
However, experts are sounding the alarm that those eligible for Pension Credit are not claiming the crucial benefit support.
Currently pensioners are facing an inflation rate of 9% and energy bills are expected to hit £2,800 by October this year.
According to a recent report by the Center for Aging Better, 2.1 million Britons of retirement age live in relative poverty. This represents 18% of the population.
In recent years, due to the pandemic and the rising cost of living, this trend of retirees falling into financial hardship has continued.
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Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Kim Chaplain, Labor Advisor at the Center for Aging Better, explained why it’s important for older people in financial difficulty to seek help through the Pension Credit.
The retired expert notes that 850,000 families are eligible for pension credit in the UK, but they are not claiming the benefit.
Around £1.7bn of pension credit went unclaimed between 2019 and 2020, which amounts to around £1,900 a year for each eligible household
Ms Chaplain explained: ‘On the face of it, there are two potential major issues driving this low rate of pension credit take-up.
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“The first is the complexity of the pension credit application form, which is demanding and requires the production of proof alongside it. Many people who might qualify need help completing it.
“The second is associated with the first: it is a very intrusive process. Many people are not comfortable or even embarrassed by the need to claim and therefore choose to try without it.
“Some may well believe that even when they have gone through the process, they are unlikely to get further support.”
Recently, the government has made a conscious effort to get people on the pension credit, but Chaplain thinks there are more improvements that can be made.
She added: “There are huge numbers of people who are being pushed unnecessarily further into hardship due to a system that is not reaching as many people as it can.
“The government’s recently announced campaign to boost the use of pension credit is a welcome step, and we will be interested to see the effects it has.
“As things stand, some customers find it difficult to access the pension credit service unless they have good support from the local community, such as the Citizens’ Council or the Voluntary Service Council. .”
Specifically, the pensioner expert called for “good personalized support” that would be triggered once someone applied for their state pension for the first time.
“This support could also come into play when someone is already applying for the basic state pension but their situation changes significantly, for example following bereavement,” Ms Chaplain said.
“The Pension Credit is a great concept, one that many families desperately need, but improvements need to be made to maximize uptake and help those who struggle the most.”
A DWP spokesman said: ‘We are ensuring that pensioners receive all the support to which they are entitled, without them facing unnecessary obstacles, and the use of pension credit is now at its strongest. high level since 2010.
“We take complaints over the phone and we also offer an online service, giving those who find it difficult to make their complaint on their own the flexibility of having a friend or family member to support them at a time that suits them best. better.”