Martin Lewis: Are you one of 1.2 million missing out on savings of thousands?

Martin Lewis (inset) on the BBC ending free TV licences for those aged 75 and over. Picture: Getty I

Martin Lewis (inset) on the BBC ending free TV licences for those aged 75 and over. Picture: Getty Images/Martin Lewis - Credit: Getty Images/Martin Lewis

Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert on what benefits millions could unknowingly be entitled to.

The BBC has announced that on August 1 it is ending free TV licences for all those aged 75 and above.

Instead it is only giving it to older viewers who receive pension credit. Yet over one million eligible pensioners are missing out on this important benefit which is worth thousands. Here’s what you need to know:

• What do you need a TV licence for?

1) To watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on any TV channel or watch on an online version of a TV channel concurrently as it is being shown on the TV.

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2) To download or watch any programmes on BBC iPlayer.

• Pension credit is a means-tested benefit

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It’s tax free and aimed at those on the state pension with a low income.

Yet 40pc of those who are entitled to it aren’t claiming it, meaning up to 1.2 million people are missing out on the benefit itself, and a host of other things it entitles you to, including the TV licence.

To qualify for it, you must live in the UK and have reached state pension age (currently rising from 65 to 66 for men and women).

The system is complicated, so by far the best thing is if you’re a lower income pensioner, just check either via the pension credit calc or call the Pension Service on 0800 99 1234.

To claim you’ll need your national insurance number, income details, savings and investments and your bank account details.

You can backdate your claim for three months – do request that.

• The pension credit is made up of two elements:

- Guarantee credit. If your weekly income is less than £173.75 (single pensioner), or your joint weekly income is less than £265.20 (couple), your income will be topped up to this level.

- Savings credit. This is mostly only available to those who reached state pension age before April 6, 2016, who have some savings (it’s done so those who saved aren’t disadvantaged by it). You could be eligible for up to £14/week extra (single) or £16/week (couple).

• Pension credit is a crucial gateway benefit

I call it a gateway benefit, as if you qualify it opens up many more discounts too such as:

- Council tax reduction - worth £1,000/yr typically. Contact your council, those on pension credit could be (different councils have different schemes) eligible for up to 100% reduction of your council tax bill.

- Cold weather payments - worth £25/wk when it’s really cold. This is awarded for each seven-day period of very cold weather (0°C or below) between November 1 and March 31. If receiving pension credit, the money will be paid automatically.

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- Warm home discount - worth £140/yr. Many energy suppliers offer this automatic credit to your bill by the end of March. You’ll receive a letter between October and December to apply or call the helpline on 0800 731 0214.

- Housing benefit - could be worth £1,000s/yr. If you pay rent for your home you could be entitled to housing benefit entitlement, worth £100s/mth. When you claim pension credit, you should be asked if you want to claim housing benefit at the same time.

- Free dental care - worth £100s/yr for some. Those on the guaranteed element are entitled to free NHS dental care. This could include anything from a check-up to full dentures. Just sign a declaration form when you visit your dentist.

- Voucher for glasses/contact lenses - worth £39-£215 depending on your prescription. If you receive the guaranteed element, you’re entitled to a voucher for glasses/contact lenses. Ask for the voucher form when you have your eye test.

- Water bills – up to 50pc off. This isn’t widespread and depends on your individual water company, but some may give you a discount on your water bill.