There are around 3,000 older people in the Oxford area eligible for Pension Credit who are not claiming it – and therefore missing out on a host of associated benefits on top.
In 2018, only just over 2000 people used the Government’s Pension Credit toolkit- yet many more people are likely eligible for the Credit. Earlier this year the Government launched a campaign to improve take up, but we are yet to see any evaluation from the government of how effectively it performed. We need an action plan to ensure 100% of those who are entitled to Pension Credit actually get it – with incrementally increasing targets to help deliver that goal.
Pension Credit works by topping up older people’s pensions to a defined minimum. That minimum is currently £173.75 if you’re single or £265.20 if you’re a couple. If you can access the internet, the government has created a ‘Pension Credit Calculator’ so you can see what you might receive: https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit-calculator. Alternatively, you can call on: 0800 99 1234, or for NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 99 1234.
Pension Credit isn’t just a way for older people to access extra money. It also opens claimants up to ‘passported benefits’ – giving them access to other forms of support to help them get by.
For example, I know that many in Oxford were deeply disappointed by the Government’s decision to scrap the TV Licence for the over-75s. Older people are facing enough problems during the Coronavirus crisis, including loneliness, so it’s really thoughtless to push ahead with this policy now. Fortunately, those over the age of 75 and in receipt of Pension Credit still receive the free licence.
Cold Weather Payments can be a lifeline for older people during the winter months. If it is 0 Celsius or below for 7 days in a row, those who qualify receive £25 towards the cost of things like heating.
People who qualify for Pension Credit may also be eligible for support with housing payments – whether they rent or own their home. And unless they don’t live with other people, they are also unlikely to have to pay council tax. They can also get help with medical costs, such as free dental treatment.
It concerns me that there are so many people in Oxford who are not accessing all the extra support available to them, especially at this difficult time. I would encourage all my constituents to check if they are eligible for Pension Credit. If you want help accessing other support that Pension Credit may entitle you to, please do reach out to my office or contact a local advice centre.