Age Scotland recovers record £719,000 in unclaimed benefits for older people
Age Scotland has helped to identify £719,000 in unclaimed benefits for older people.
New UK government figures have found that four in ten of the poorest pensioners in Scotland are not claiming a benefit aimed at boosting weekly incomes for older people.
Department of Work and Pensions’ figures show an estimated £2.2 billion of available Pension Credit was unclaimed across the UK in 2017/18. The number of eligible households – estimated at 120,000 in Scotland – that are not claiming the benefit remains the same as the previous year.
The figures come as Age Scotland has revealed it had a record-breaking year in 2019, helping to identify £719,000 in unclaimed benefits for older people who called the charity’s free Helpline in 2019, a 52% increase on the previous year.
Scotland’s national charity for older people said the figure was the “tip of the iceberg”, estimating that there could be upwards of two hundred million pounds going unclaimed by pensioners, and are calling on more older people to call them for a free benefits check.
Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Pension Credit is an incredibly valuable entitlement designed to help older people with the cost of living. With more than 150,000 pensioners in Scotland living in poverty we must do everything we can to help improve their quality of life.
“Many people who call our helpline are among Scotland’s poorest pensioners and claiming the benefits they are entitled to can be the difference between heating their homes or not. The dramatic increase in unclaimed benefits we have identified is largely due to more checks being carried out by our Helpline advisors, however this is only the tip of the iceberg, with hundreds of millions of pounds going unclaimed and returned to the government coffers each year.
“A key issue is a lack of awareness of entitlements, which is why we are encouraging more older people in Scotland to call our helpline for a free benefits check. The support and advice we are able to give can be life-changing.”
The charity said a range of benefits are not being claimed.
Mr Sloan continued: “Unclaimed entitlements include pension credit, housing benefit and carers allowance, as well as attendance allowance, which is paid to people of state pension age who have a disability and need extra help with personal care or supervision.
“The benefits system can be complex for people to navigate but we are here to help and provide expert advice.”