Pensioner poverty is rising – yet more than a million pensioners are living on threadbare incomes because they’re not receiving pension credit – a benefit designed to keep the poorest pensioners out of poverty.
Pension credit is currently claimed by just six in 10 of pensioners who are entitled to it, in part because awareness of the benefit’s existence is low: four in 10 people have never heard of it. Of those who have, fewer than half know who it’s intended to help.
As we start to feel the dramatic and devastating impact of the rise in cost of living and hike in energy costs, its critical for older members of our community know where to get help.
The reason many of our seniors don’t claim this benefit is because they assume they’re not eligible, or they feel a stigma from putting in a claim – and misinformation – many mistakenly believing they’ll lose other benefits they’re entitled to if they claim it.
According to research by Loughborough University, if pension credit take up were increased to 100% then almost 450,000 pensioners could be lifted out of poverty.
In addition analysis from Labour shows that the basic state pension will be worth hundreds of pounds less in real terms over the next year. As a result of rising inflation and the Conservatives’ decision to only increase the state pension by 3.1 per cent, a basic state pension for an individual will be worth around £222 less in real terms over a year than in 2021/22.
For a couple it will be worth around £355 less. This is a real-terms cut to the state pension that is less than the amount Ministers are providing households to reduce their energy bills over the next year – forcing yet even more older people into poverty.
This real terms cut on top of rocketing heating bills, price rises and cuts to other support such as the free TV license means thousands of pensioners face a tough, bleak year faced with impossible choices between heating or eating.
Please, if you’re struggling visit gov.uk/pension-credit. A claim can be made online or by calling the free claim line on 0800 991 234.