New campaign urges older people to claim the benefits they are entitled to

(from left) Ann McDermott, Norman Shanks, Jeane Freeman MSP, Hannah Beaton and Sarah Erskine
(from left) Ann McDermott, Norman Shanks, Jeane Freeman MSP, Hannah Beaton and Sarah Erskine

A new campaign aimed at ensuring older people receive the financial support they are entitled to has been launched by the Scottish Government and Citizens Advice Scotland.

The campaign encourages people aged 65 and over to seek advice on the benefits they may be eligible for and to claim them. The financial help available includes pension top ups, council tax reductions and support if they are disabled.

Many older people in Scotland are currently not claiming their full benefits and support entitlement. For example, only 6 in 10 people who are eligible for Pension Credit claim it, meaning many older people are missing out on an average of £2,000 a year of pension top-ups they are entitled to.

The campaign encourages older people to contact their local Citizens Advice Bureau to find out what support is available for them and to get help claiming it. Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland help more than 277,000 people a year by providing free, impartial and confidential advice, including on claiming the benefits they are entitled to, resulting in a financial gain to those people of more than £144 million.

Minster for social security Jeane Freeman MSP launched the new campaign at Maryhill and Possilpark Citizens Advice Bureau, where she met with volunteers.

She said: “Older people make a significant contribution to society and their local communities. That is why we want to ensure they are aware of all the financial support they are entitled to. Additional money can make all the difference to someone on a low income and help make their lives a bit easier.

“We want to create a fairer and more equal Scotland for everybody and we have an overarching aim to create a social security system that is based on dignity, fairness and respect, that is there to help and support those who need it, when they need it. Nobody – young or old – should feel any embarrassment to ask about their entitlements.”

The new campaign will include a series of television, press and bus adverts featuring the message ‘You’ve earned it – why not claim it?’. It highlights the contribution older people make to society and encourages them to think about the reasons they don’t apply for financial support, such as lack of knowledge, reluctance to ask for help, perceived stigma, and cultural or language barriers.

Sarah Erskine, chief officer at Maryhill and Possilpark Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “Every day at this CAB and at others across the country, we see clients who are not aware of their benefits entitlements and the income they could be receiving, particularly if there’s been a change of circumstances such as ill health or having to take on additional caring responsibilities.

“At your local CAB, we can undertake a benefits check and talk you through your benefits entitlements, and even support you to make an application if you would like to do so. As Scotland’s largest independent advice network, our advice is free impartial and confidential – so there’s really nothing to lose by coming to see us.”

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Older people make an incredible contribution to their communities and families. Our recent research found that working parents are increasingly reliant on an older generation, with more than a third of grandparents providing regular childcare. Many more volunteer, take on caring responsibilities, or contribute through numerous other activities.

“That’s why it’s so disappointing that so many older Scots are not claiming the money they are entitled to. These people have earned a decent standard of living in retirement, and they shouldn’t spend their later years worrying about how to pay the next bill.

“We’ve already helped callers claim thousands of pounds in pension credits through our helpline, which can make a huge difference to their quality of life. I’d encourage everyone to make sure they or their older relatives are not missing out.”

To gain social security advice for yourself or your family member, contact Citizens Advice Scotland. Call 0800 023 2581 to be directed to your nearest Citizens Advice bureau.

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