Almost three million older people living in the UK are missing out on an estimated £3.5 billion in unclaimed benefits, despite recent government figures showing that the number of people aged 65 and over who are living in poverty is on the rise.
Research by the charity Age UK found that one in four pensioners are not claiming all the state benefits they may be entitled to, with unclaimed Pension Credit and Housing Benefit alone amounting to £3.5bn in unclaimed benefits.
The latest government figures show that recent progress on tackling pensioner poverty is showing signs of unraveling, with 1.9 million older people in the UK living below the breadline.
Those figures also found that one in ten older people aged 65 and over would be unable to afford unexpected expenses above £200, for example replacing a broken washing machine.
Age UK says that if people who are eligible for Pension Credit make a claim, it could increase their income by an average of £42 a week – the equivalent of £2,184 a year.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Managing on a low, fixed income is really tough, and many people face a daily struggle just to afford the basics. That’s why is it so important that every older person who is entitled to claim benefits does so.
“Every day Age UK helps people to claim what they are entitled to, and every day we hear how much of a difference the money makes, how surprised people are by how straightforward the process is with the help of an adviser, and how much less they have to worry about everyday bills.
‘It is shameful that despite millions of older people struggling financially, around £3.5 billion in money benefits remains unclaimed every year when this extra income could make a huge difference to their lives.
“We would urge anyone who is worried about their finances, or an older family member or friend, to get in touch with us for free, impartial information and advice.”.
Age UK provides a range of free guides on its website to help older people navigate the welfare system and claim the benefits they are rightly entitled to. People can also call the Age UK advice line on freephone 0800 169 65 65.