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Benefits advice saves pensioners thousands of pounds

Billions of pounds of benefits for older people go unclaimed in the UK every year, leaving some pensioners struggling to make ends meet. However, The Wrekin Housing Trust is helping to change this for its tenants with a Benefits Advice Service, which is saving people at the Trust’s ShireLiving schemes thousands of pounds every year.

The Trust’s eight ShireLiving schemes provide independent living for people over 55 by offering onsite support and care. Carole Bernardes is a benefits advisor for ShireLiving and said the checks they do on affordability for new tenants can often lead to them becoming aware that they are missing out on benefits.

“Older applicants can often be very worried about moving home and our Tenant Ready process allows us to look at details of the income and savings they have and to reassure them that it is affordable,” she said. According to Age UK, each year up to £3.5bn of Pension Credit and Housing Benefit goes unclaimed by older people. Carole said that many older people with health issues miss out on claiming a disability benefit called Attendance Allowance.

“Attendance Allowance is extra money paid towards health and care needs to help people stay independent in their own home for as long as possible,” she said. “It’s available for those aged 65 or over who have an illness or disability which impacts upon their daily living. Many people are unaware that this benefit is paid because of care needs regardless of their income or capital.”

In some cases, the award of one benefit can also lead to entitlement or an increase in another benefit – Carole said is able to advise people and guide them through the claim process. We are also able to advise when housing benefit can be claimed if their former home is up for sale - this can be a big relief financially for house owners who are now wanting to move into more suitable and supportive accommodation,” she said.

“We also liaise with families who are understandably concerned about their parents’ welfare and finances and explain and assist them to understand what options are available to them.

“People are often surprised when they find out they are entitled to claim a benefit but it is usually a big relief to them as well as life can suddenly become a lot more affordable.”

Carole Bernardes, Welfare Benefits Advisor

Photo: Carole Bernardes, Welfare Benefits Advisor for The Wrekin Housing Trust's ShireLiving schemes.

24th August 2018