Pensions - Articles - Pensioners urged to check availability for benefits

Annual research by HUB Financial Solutions reveals that losing the £154.50 licence fee from next June could be the tip of the iceberg for many thousands of pensioners who are already missing out by failing to claim Pension Credit they are eligible to receive.

 Over-75 TV licence losers urged not to wait to next year to avoid missing out on thousands of pounds worth of benefits
 “The decision by the BBC to end automatic entitlement to a free TV licence for the over-75s should provide a wake-up call to everyone to check their eligibility for State benefits,” said Simon Gray, Managing Director of HUB Financial Solutions.

 “The licence is £154.50 this year, but that is dwarfed by the sheer scale of the loss of annual income which in many cases is hundreds or thousands each year.”

 HUB Financial Solutions has carried out annual research for the last nine years based on in-depth factfinding interviews with homeowner clients seeking advice on equity release.

 Its 2018 survey found that 17% of over-75s homeowners were eligible to claim Guaranteed Pension Credit, the main benefit for pensioners with low incomes, and 26% were eligible to claim Savings Pension Credit, designed to reward those on low incomes who have managed to accumulate some savings.

 However, nearly half (46%) of those eligible for GPC were not claiming, with the average amount of benefit being lost £2,046 a year but in one case a pensioner was missing out on £4,173 a year. For SPC, four in five (80%) of those eligible to claim were failing to with the average amount unclaimed £387 a year.

 “This is a snapshot of over-75 homeowners but official figures back-up the scale of the problem indicated by our research,” said Simon Gray. “It’s estimated by government1 that about 1.3 million families entitled to Pension Credit do not claim and the loss to UK pensioners is around £3.5 billion a year or £2,500 for each household.”

 HUB Financial Solutions has also looked at the attitude of the over-65s towards claiming State benefits other than State Pension and found that only a small number – just one in 25 (4%) – say it is because they do not want to be burden on the State.

 Nearly half (46%) of over-65s said they had never checked their entitlement and only about one in 10 said they had checked within the last year. Of those who had never checked, seven in 10 (69%) said it was because they believed their income or savings was too high to qualify and more than a quarter (27%) said it was because they thought the value in their home would rule them out. 

 One in 10 (5%) said they thought they probably would qualify but they thought the amount of benefit would not make it worthwhile. This rose to 12% of over-80s.

 “The issue of free TV licences has inadvertently shone a spotlight on the far bigger problem of people who are struggling for income failing to claim the State support they should be receiving,” said Simon Gray.

 “It’s a year until the licence fee change but we would urge the over-75s not to wait because they could be missing out on Pension Credit and other benefits too that could be genuinely life-changing amounts of income.”

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