Senior citizens living in Cumbernauld may be missing out on topping up their income through Pension Credit, and can receive free support on the subject through accessing the services of older people’s charity Independent Age.
This is Challenge Poverty Week (4-10 October 2021) in Scotland, with Cumbernauld Family Hub taking the opportunity to raise awareness of a key financial entitlement often missed by older people across the country.
Pension Credit was introduced in 2003 with a view to supplementing those in receipt of a State Pension but with income and savings which are below a minimum level set by the UK Government. A number of detailed elements exist within its boundaries and a number of changes have been made to the benefit over the years.
As a result, the benefit often goes under the radar and the complexities of it means there are thousands of older people either unaware that they can claim or unsure of how to go about it. Official figures have revealed that as many as four in 10 pensioners could be losing out on £2,000 per year in unclaimed Pension Credit. Mary McNeil, Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre, commented:
“If you’re of pension age and receiving less than £177.10 per week as a single person or £270.30 per week as a couple, you are entitled to and should be able to claim Pension Credit. Indeed, you may still qualify to claim if you have a higher income.
“One of the misconceptions of Pension Credit is that you can’t claim it if you have a certain level of savings in the bank. This is not true – people with savings are still entitled to Pension Credit, although if you have over £10,000 of savings then this will affect the amount that you receive.
“Understandably, knowing your entitlement to claim Pension Credit can be very confusing and difficult to grasp, particularly for older and vulnerable people. That’s why we are encouraging local people to use the services of organisations like Independent Age for free advice and information.
“Independent Age is a national charity which works to benefit and assist older people and their families in a variety of areas, including money and benefits, care and support, and health and mobility.
“Ultimately, we want older people living in the Cumbernauld and surrounding areas to be able to maximise their income, and a simple telephone call to Independent Age’s freephone helpline can help set the ball rolling for you or your family in this respect.”
Easy-to-understand advice and information booklets on Pension Credit produced by Independent Age are accessible through Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub. These can be obtained free of charge by visiting Cornerstone House Centre at 1 Esk Walk, Cumbernauld, G67 1BZ.
Another valuable provision of Independent Age is Friendship Services for older people. If you are feeling lonely or isolated and would benefit from some friendly and supportive social contact, the organisation can arrange for a trained and empathetic volunteer to talk with you through regular telephone calls or regular visits (COVID-19 permitting).
On the other hand, if you are someone who has some free time and would like to help older people in your area, you could be trained and supported to become a Friendship Service Volunteer with Independent Age. Such volunteers make a valuable difference to the quality of life and happiness of older people all over the country.
For further information on Pension Credit, Friendship Services or other free support available for older people, please contact Independent Age’s freephone helpline on 0800 319 6789.
Challenge Poverty Week aims to raise a unified voice against poverty and call for a more just and equal Scotland, as well as building awareness and support for solutions to poverty.
For more about Challenge Poverty Week 2021 and how you can have your voice heard, visit www.challengepoverty.net.