Age UK urges all pensioners on a low income to put in a claim for Pension Credit so they don’t miss out on £324 lump sum and other cost of living support
Older people on a low income have until Sunday 18th December to put in a claim for Pension Credit in order to qualify for the second part of the Government’s cost-of-living payment, a £324 lump sum.
Age UK is urging all older people who are struggling on a low income and who are not already in receipt of Pension Credit to put in a claim without delay to avoid missing out.
Announced as part of its original energy support package in May 2022, the Government’s Cost of Living Payment will be paid to those in receipt of Pension Credit (and other qualifying benefits). To be eligible for the second lump sum, older people must have been entitled to a Pension Credit payment (or later found to be entitled to a payment) in the period between 26th August and 25th September 2022. Because an application for Pension Credit can be backdated by three months, those who begin the claiming process by Sunday 18th December and are successful can meet the eligibility criteria for the extra £324.
That’s why Age UK is stepping up its call for people to put in a claim for this essential benefit. As well providing a much-needed income boost and automatically qualifying them for the Government’s Cost of Living Payment, Pension Credit also opens the door to a wide range of additional support including extra help with energy bills and other essential costs:
- A one-off payment of £150 (previously £140) through the Warm Home Discount Scheme to help with the cost of energy this winter
- A Cold Weather Payment of £25, paid automatically when the average temperature is 0°C or below over seven consecutive days
- Help with Council Tax and rent
- Reduced water bills
- Free NHS dental treatment and help towards the cost of glasses and travel to hospital
- A free TV licence (if over-75)
- Cheaper phone and home broadband deals
- An extra amount of Pension Credit for some carers worth up to £38.85 a week
Pension Credit tops up the weekly income of a single pensioner to £182.60 or a pensioner couple to £278.70 (or more in some circumstances). It is entirely separate from the State Pension and comes in two parts: Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit. If the claim for Pension Credit is successful it can be backdated up to three months.
Yet despite considerable financial benefits, a third (34 per cent) of pensioners eligible to claim Pension Credit are still missing out – a huge concern, especially as the cost of living continues to rise. The Government’s own figures show that 770,000 eligible pensioner households (single people or couples) are not receiving their Pension Credit payments, worth around £1.5 billion every year – an average of £1,900 a year, per household.
Redeem your pre-payment meter voucher
The Charity is urging all those who pay for their electricity by pre-payment meter to urgently check they have either received a credit on their meter or a voucher. As part of its Energy Bills Support Scheme, the Government has promised £400 over six months for ALL households in Britain which will, for most people, be credited to electricity accounts directly. But those on pre-payment meters will either receive a credit on their meter each month OR a voucher which must be redeemed within three months.
Despite those on pre-payment meters generally being on the lowest incomes and paying higher tariffs, the latest Government figures show that OVER A THIRD (41 per cent) of the two million pre-payment customers who have been sent a voucher have still not redeemed it – and time is running out. Anyone who is unsure about whether they should have one should contact their energy supplier urgently.
Speak to your local council for extra help through the Household Support Fund
Age UK is urging any older person who is finding it hard to keep up with energy payments to speak to their local council about whether they could be entitled to a Household Support Fund payment.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Although it’s good news that the State Pension and benefits will rise in line with inflation from April, many older people are still extremely worried about staying warm and well over the coming months. However there is a lot of extra support available to help those on the lowest incomes this winter and it’s not too late to claim it.
“Putting in a successful claim now for Pension Credit will mean it can be backdated by three months, which will not only entitle people to a £324 lump sum cost of living payment but will also open the door to a significant amount of additional help towards energy and other bills.
“We know that around 770,000 pensioner households are still missing out on Pension Credit and it’s likely that every one of them is struggling to manage their escalating bills at the moment. We’re urging anyone who’s finding it hard to pay for the basics such as food and energy to get in touch for a benefits check – claims must be made by mid-December in order to meet the cut-off date for eligibility for the extra payment. A successful claim – worth an average of £1,900 a year per household in addition to the cost of living payment – could be life-changing, giving people the confidence to eat well and keep their heating on over the coming months.”
In addition, the Winter Fuel Payment – which should be paid automatically to all those born on or before 25th September 1956 – this year includes an additional payment of up to £300 and should give those on a local to modest income the confidence to turn their heating on when they need it.
As part of Age UK’s It Doesn’t Add Up campaign, the Charity is urging any older person living on a low income or struggling with their bills to contact Age UK’s free Advice line on 0800 169 65 65 to check they’re receiving all the financial support available. Alternatively people can visit www.ageuk.org.uk/money or contact their local Age UK for information and advice.
Age UK hosts a free and anonymous Benefits Calculator which can provide an estimate of the benefits that people could be entitled to.
To make a claim for Pension Credit, people should call the DWP Pension Credit claim line direct on 0800 99 1234 or visit www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim. It can be claimed by phone and online.