‘A real difference!’ Pensioners urged to claim sum worth up to £3,000 per year

Therese Coffey outlines the benefits of Pension Credit scheme

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Many pensioners rely almost totally on the state pension sum to get by during retirement. However, with costs often spiralling, it can be difficult to manage one’s money. Two in five pensioners have spent at least one year of the last decade in poverty, according to research from Independent Age.

Many are fearful the situation will deteriorate in 2022, with a December 2021 poll by the charity showing 47 percent of people aged 50 and over have this concern. 

Although later life can bring financial stability for some, for others it can be a time of insecurity and precariousness.

Morgan Vine, Head of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, said: “This new research paints a concerning picture of later life in the UK over the last decade. It is unacceptable that two in five people in later life have been forced to spend at least one year in poverty across a nine year period.

“An older person who has spent a year or more in poverty is much more likely to be unable to afford an unexpected expense such as repairing a broken boiler, they will try to save money by cutting back on heating and food, and they will likely limit their social interactions to save money.”

There is, though, a benefit which could help those above state pension age if they are on a low income.

Pension Credit is overseen by the DWP and designed for this purpose for those living in England, Scotland or Wales.

It tops up weekly income to £177.10 for singletons, and joint income to £270.30 for those with a partner in a scheme known as Guarantee Credit.

Those who have savings or a second pension could be entitled to Savings Credit – worth £14.04 per week for single people, and £15.71 for those with a partner.

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However, people must have reached state pension age before April 6, 2016, and have saved some money for retirement in order to unlock this aspect.

On average, Pension Credit is thought to be worth some £3,000 per year, showing the difference it could make to a person’s standard of living. 

This was the case for Brenda Balfe, a 67-year-old woman from Southport, who was widowed in August 2020.

The Balfes had lived in France for 10 years, but returned to the UK in 2016.

They spent three years living on just Mr Balfe’s pension, as Brenda was impacted by the state pension age change issue, which was understandably challenging.

Brenda explained: “When we first moved back to the UK, we couldn’t access any support for 12 months. 

“We had to adjust our lifestyle and manage our money very carefully, especially as we were living off one pension. We ended up buying a static caravan rather than a house.

“We really struggled for three years. We were constantly worrying – do we put the heating on or buy food. 

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“Some months were more difficult than others, especially in winter, so it was a balancing act. We’d put the heating on for an hour then turn it off so we could have it on again later.

“Dave would drive but we’d have to keep an eye on fuel prices, and I didn’t have my bus pass so that cost money too. It would stop us going out.”

After her husband died, Brenda explained she could not get heating allowance, and struggled with money.

However, once she secured her allowance, she also started to receive Pension Credit.

Brenda added: “It’s made a real difference. I can’t go mad with my spending, but at least I can have the heating on in winter without worrying. 

“Living on a low income is a constant worry and strain, and it can really overwhelm you when all you can think about is how to cover the bills.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for comment.

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