A series of articles from our pensions team in which we intend to inform you of your entitlements and how to avoid missing out on what’s rightfully yours.
Did you know that benefits worth billions of pounds – ranging from pension credit to jobseeker’s allowance – go unclaimed each year?
Up to £3bn in pension credit, used to top-up pensioners’ weekly income is never taken up according to the Department for Work and Pensions.
Age UK has made calls on the DWP to make the general public, particularly the elderly, more aware of what they are entitled to, describing the total loss to pensioners as “staggering”. “It is very disappointing that many older people are still not claiming the benefits they are owed,” said Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK.
“There are still 1.8 million elderly living in poverty and for whom making a claim for pension benefit could make a huge difference to their income and quality of life. The government needs to start an awareness programme and move more towards a system where the DWP pay entitlements rather than an individual having to work their way through the benefits maze.”
One cannot help but think, however, that this ‘oversight’ by the government is not something that they are too keen upon to remedy.
If you live in rented property the government can offer you help if you are on a low income. This help is not just restricted to your rent but in many cases covers service charges linked to the property as well. Whilst there is no fixed amount set for housing benefit the actual amount you receive will depend upon:
Whether or not you rent privately or from your local council.
The overall amount of income coming into the household and your individual circumstances.
The size of your property and whether or not you have, what the authorities consider, to be spare rooms. This is always a problematic. Who is to say if a room set aside for a frequently visiting family member of the arms forces from their tours of duty – or even a room that you may use for medical, or therapeutic purposes, is ‘spare’ or not?
HOUSING BENEFIT IS MEANS-TESTED AND THE AMOUNT YOU CAN CLAIM IS AFFECTED BY:
- Who lives in the premises with you.
- How much rent you pay
- The level of your savings
It seems an anomaly that people who have worked and saved all their lives for a comfortable retirement should be penalised for having done so – but this is indeed the case.
In most cases, savings of over £16,000 usually mean you will not be able to get Housing Benefit, although this limit does not apply if you or a partner get Pension Credit Guarantee. Savings over £10,000 for pensioners will usually affect how much Housing Benefit you can claim
The whole matter of eligibility is very complex and if any doubt you should contact your local benefits office.