Pensioners missing out on benefits

Pensioners in East Anglia who are anxious or embarrassed about asking for financial help are denying themselves a share of billions of pounds in unclaimed benefits.

Pensioners in East Anglia who are anxious or embarrassed about asking for financial help are denying themselves a share of billions of pounds in unclaimed benefits.

Age Concern is calling on friends and family to do more to ensure older people receive the money they are entitled to, which could dramatically improve their quality of life and lift many out of poverty.

The call came after the charity discovered that almost 40pc of people in the east of England were worried that an older friend or relative was missing out – the highest percentage of any area in the country.

In a bid to reverse the growing amount of benefits cash left unclaimed each year – now up to £4.2bn – Age Concern has launched a major campaign which aims to put an extra £100m in the pockets of pensioners in the next year.

Figures released by the charity reveal that despite pensioners' concerns over council tax increasing by an average of 4.2pc this year, council tax benefit is still the least claimed entitlement by older people.

Up to £1.4bn in council tax benefit is failing to reach older people across the UK, with 2.2 million people, almost half of those entitled to claim, missing out.

Most Read

The charity warned that some of the poorest and most vulnerable older people were losing out because they were unaware what they were entitled to, were worried about the complexity of the process or were embarrassed about claiming.

Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: "Thousands of older people across the east of England are missing out on money that is rightfully theirs and could make a huge difference to their quality of life.

"That's why we're launching our new year-long Your Rights campaign and are determined to get an extra £100m into the pockets of those who need it by April 2008.

"There's nothing to lose and everything to gain by making a claim.

"Claiming council tax benefit alone could cut bills by an average of £580 a year, and claiming housing benefit could mean paying less or no rent at all.

"We would urge people to get in touch with their local Age Concern for a free benefits check or to phone our free helpline for more information."

Age Concern is able to make home visits to provide advice and help with forms, and pensioners who have been turned down in the past may now be eligible.

Call Age Concern's free helpline on 0800 009966.