The elderly in difficulty are invited to apply for a retirement credit to increase their income, while the number of people living in poverty reaches 2.1 million.
Black and Asian seniors are most at risk of struggling to make ends meet later in life, while those over 85, renters, and retired single women are also among the most likely to having strained finances, according to the Age UK charity.
The pension credit increases weekly income to at least £ 173.75 if you are single and £ 265.30 for couples, but you can earn up to £ 12,000 per year more from housing assistance , heating, housing tax, television licenses and other bills.
Retirement credit: elderly people in difficulty are invited to check their eligibility
Reasons for not making a complaint include lack of awareness, fear of filling out long forms, reluctance to disclose personal information, feeling that others are worse off than you, or the determination not to ask. help, says Age UK.
This means that around 920,000 retiree households are not receiving pension credits worth up to £ 1.6 billion a year, according to government figures.
>>> How to apply for a pension credit? Find out below
At the same time, the number of retirees living in poverty increased by 31%, from 1.6 million in 2013-14 to 2.1 million in 2019-2020.
Being poor is defined as living in a household with less than 60 percent of the median income after housing costs. In 2019-2020, the median income after housing costs for a couple was £ 476 per week, or around £ 24,900 per year.
The median means the middle of the UK workers’ income bracket, and is used instead of the mean because a small number of very high earners can skew the results.
Age UK explains that poverty is a relative measure and that, as average household incomes increased significantly over the years up to 2019-2020, the number of retirees falling below the poverty line has increased.
Some 33% of older Asians and 30% of older blacks in the UK live below the poverty line
This means that the incomes of the poorest elderly have not kept pace with the overall increase in household incomes.
Government figures show that 33% of older Asians and 30% of older blacks in the UK live below the poverty line, compared to 16% of older white people.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “The number of older people living in poverty has steadily increased over the past few years, so they now exceed two million.
“That’s a lot of older people worried about how they will cope if their heater or stove fails and needs to be replaced, more than the entire population of Newcastle and Liverpool combined.
“It is sad to realize that the burden of poverty among older people currently weighs disproportionately on black and Asian older people in our society.
“For their sake and, indeed, for the sake of anyone forced to scrimp and save in their later years, we should do everything possible to increase their income, so that they can enjoy a dignified and comfortable retirement. that they deserve.
“It is deeply frustrating that the money is available to supplement the incomes of retirees who live on the lowest incomes, but that much of this money is begged each year because many never claim what is rightfully theirs. . “
Former Pensions Minister Ros Altmann recently urged people to meet with elderly relatives and friends after the lockdown to help them apply for pension credit if you discover they are in financial difficulty.
She welcomed the Age UK campaign to promote greater reliance on retirement credit, saying: “Workers and businesses have rightly received government leave money to help them afford a living. during the pandemic.
“However, retirees continued to miss the money they are entitled to because they do not claim retirement credit.
How to apply for a pension credit
You can apply by phone, online or by mail yourself, or a friend or family member can apply on behalf of a senior.
You can call 0800 99 1234, make a complaint online here or find out how to apply by mail here.
Charities also have other useful information. Age UK offers help here and the Citizens Advice Bureau here.
“The use of pension credits is the lowest of any means-tested benefit – 40 percent don’t ask.
“It is well known that retirees find filling out forms off-putting, are often too proud to ask for help, or mistakenly think they are not eligible.
‘They might not realize that they could have up to £ 10,000 in savings but are still eligible for small amounts of pension credit and these may cause them to qualify to many other valuable benefits, worth thousands of pounds a year.
“It’s good to see Age UK working on this topic to get the word out and I encourage anyone who knows older people to suggest they check their eligibility.”
Myron Jobson, of Interactive Investor, says official statistics on household wealth by ethnicity show that almost everywhere people of color were worse off than their white counterparts, but one of the most striking findings was the disparity in ethnic pensions.
“The median value of the private pension was £ 80,000 for white British groups, but less than £ 5,000 for Bangladeshis, black Africans, Chinese and any other ethnic group.
The Office for National Statistics said that disparities in employment rates and earnings will contribute to the ethnic pension gap, but also points to a knowledge gap about pensions and the likelihood of participating in available schemes being more low among some ethnic minority groups. “
Jobson says there is an ethnic retirement chasm – not a gap – that needs to be closed, akin to the efforts rightly made to tackle gender inequalities.
“The first step is to understand the unique experiences and expectations of different communities.
“However, the lack of research is a perennial motive when it comes to exploring how attitudes and experiences among BAMEs [Black, Asian, and minority ethnic] communities could affect their access to and use of financial services.
It is currently conducting its latest Great British Retirement survey, and Jobson says last year it attracted over 12,000 respondents, but there was not a large enough sample of BAME communities to draw many meaningful conclusions.
The survey is open until June 30 and you can take part here.
“I don’t pay council tax anymore – I was paying around £ 1,000 a year”
People who call the Age UK counseling line on 0800 678 1602 can receive a free benefit check. The charity was contacted by Pam, 75, who shares her story below.
I had really bad times when I couldn’t even open the invoices, the letters. It was so bad, and I had to wait for my daughter to come, and she had to go through it all.
I was struggling a little financially. I have a state pension and a small one by the county council. A lady on the Age UK Advice line said: “I can have someone call you to write a benefit check for you.”
So I got a call from a lady in Age UK Lincoln. I never dreamed that with my income, I was indeed entitled to benefits. She wrote a benefit check for me and helped me fill out the forms.
I now get an attendance allowance and a pension credit – that’s an extra £ 51 per week, but those are the other perks that come with it as well.
I don’t pay council tax anymore – even with a quarter off I was still paying around £ 1000 a year which is a huge amount of money. And now I’m 75, I get my free TV license. Without Age UK I wouldn’t have known any of this.
Having the Age UK benefit check has made a huge difference in my life. With that little extra money, it allowed me to buy things that make my life easier.
I have a better shower chair – it’s much safer. When it all opened up last time, I brought in a podiatrist to do my feet, which I could never have afforded.
I don’t worry so much about my bills now, and it’s a huge thing when you sometimes suffer from depression, anxiety, and a bad mood. When these letters come in I just can’t process them, so thanks to Age UK’s benefit monitoring it takes away any worry about anything.
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