Citizens Advice Bury and Bolton are supporting phase two of the Greater Manchester Pension Top Up campaign 2022. The campaign which is running across all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs is being coordinated by the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub and Greater Manchester housing providers and is being delivered in partnership with national charity Independent Age. The campaign aims to encourage older people, or their loved ones, to check they are getting all they are entitled to.
Research shows there are around 36,000 eligible households not claiming Pension Credit in Greater Manchester – that’s a third of those who are eligible. This equates to £70 million in unclaimed Pension Credit per year across the region. This is all extra income that can be put back in older people’s pockets and potentially be spent within our local communities.
With the cost-of-living crisis, it’s so important that older residents don’t miss out on what they are entitled to, including Attendance Allowance, Housing Benefit and Pension Credit, to support their growing household bills.
In Bury, it is estimated that there is £4 million per year of unclaimed Pension Credit. With an estimated 2,177 eligible Pension Credit non-claimants missing out on what they are entitled to.
In Bolton, the figures are even higher and it is estimated that £7.9 million a year of Pension Credit is unclaimed. With an estimated 4,017 eligible non-claimants missing out on their entitlement.
Pension Credit is designed to bring the weekly income of pensioners up to a minimum amount and could make those eligible £34 a week better off on average. In addition to the extra weekly cash, Pension Credit also unlocks other financial benefits including a free TV licence for over 75s, possible eligibility for council tax support and housing benefit as well as money towards green home insulation. Some people are also eligible for free dental treatment, free sight tests and travel costs to hospital.
Why are so many eligible people not claiming?
According to DWP research the main reason older people don’t claim is that they don’t think they are eligible. 70% said that they thought Pension Credit is for people with less money than they have, whilst 76% said they could manage without. The stigma of claiming benefits and mistrust of or anxiety about bureaucracy are important secondary barriers. Large proportions think that home ownership bars people from claiming Pension Credit and many worry about how it interacts with other income sources.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “With so much pressure on household finances, it’s vital that older people are getting all the money they are entitled to. A third of those eligible for pension credit in Greater Manchester aren’t claiming, with many missing out on income from attendance allowance and housing benefit too. If you own your own home or have a private pension you could still be eligible, so please take a moment now and check – for yourself or your loved ones. It’s going to be another tough winter, and getting this top-up could make all the difference.”
The main reason older people don’t claim, is that they don’t think they are eligible. When it comes to finances and benefits, older people are most likely to respond to one-to-one prompting from family and friends or from trusted local contacts. The campaign encourages everyone to ask their older family, friends and customers, ‘have you topped up?’.
To check if you or a loved one are getting all the entitlements due, contact your local social housing provider or Independent Age freephone helpline 0800 319 6789 https://www.independentage.org/get-support