New figures say nearly one million pensioners aged 75 or over are living in poverty and need more financial help. But there are a host of benefits and perks, financial and otherwise, available to people over the age of 50.
The purpose of Pension Credit is to top up low incomes, bringing them up to a miniumum of £155.60 for single people and £237.55 for a couple. Unfortunately many people who are eligible don’t claim it – see if you can benefit at Gov.UK.
Help with your council tax
You could get a leg up with your council tax payments if your savings are below £16,000 or you're on a low income. Contact your local authority (or the Welsh or Scottish Government) to find out if you’re eligible.
Help with your heating
No one should have to choose between heating and eating, which is why the government has a few initiatives in place to help cover your heating in the bitter winter months.
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment helps those born on or before January 5 1953 keep warm during the winter. The amount of money you get depends on your age and who lives in your house, ranging from £100-£300 a year.
Those who have received it in previous years shouldn’t have to make another claim – it’ll be given to you automatically. What’s more, you should receive it automatically if you meet the age and residence criteria and receive another government benefit including the state pension, Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.
Ring the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 0845 915 1515 to claim.
Cold Weather Payment
You’ll receive £25 payments when your local temperature is either recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of zero degrees celsius or below over seven consecutive days between November 1 and March 31 each year.
If you’re entitled to other income-related benefits like Pension Credit, you’ll be eligible for cold weather payments. It’ll be paid automatically too.
Warm Homes Discount
You can also get £140 off your electricity bill through the Warmer Homes Discount scheme. It won't be paid to you directly, but a one-off lump sum that will be taken off your electricity bill. This usually happens some time between September and March.
You'll qualify for the discount if, on July 12 2015, all of the following apply:
- your electricity supplier was part of the scheme
- your name (or your partner’s) was on the bill
- you were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit
Insulation and heating schemes
Some schemes install insulation and heating to make your home more energy efficient. People with poorly-insulated homes and no central heating system will likely be eligible.
Contact the Energy Saving Advice Service (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and Nest (Wales). Scottish households should opt for the Scotland Energy Assistance Package - ring 0800 512 012 for more information.
Anyone in the UK can contact the Home Heat Helpline for extra help.
Disability Living Allowance (or Personal Independence Payment)
Disability Living Allowance is being phased out for people born after 8th April 1948. It’s being replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
PIP will cover you if you have long-term ill-health or a disability if you’re aged 16 to 64. The financial support you receive depends on how the condition affects you, not the actual condition itself, but you’ll get between £21.80 and £139.75 a week.
Find out how it'll affect you on the government's website.
People who are over 65 could get help with personal care if they’re physically or mentally disabled. It’s paid at two different rates (higher and lower) and the amount you get is dependent on how much care you need.
Other benefits that you already get may be increased on top of it, but you could get £55.10 or £82.30 a week as standard, depending on whether you need lower or higher rate care.
Free prescriptions and eye tests for over 60s
As well as free prescriptions, there’s 25% off glasses at Specsavers from Monday to Friday on ranges for over 60s.
You could also get help towards dental treatment, glasses or contact lenses as well as travel costs to the hospital.
Free TV licence
People aged 75 or over will get a free TV licence.
Free bus pass
Those living in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland qualify for a free bus pass when they reach the age of 60. In England it’s slightly more complicated: women will get a bus pass when they reach state pension age, whereas men will only qualify when they reach the pensionable age of a woman born on the same day as them.
Get more information on how to apply at Gov.UK.
A senior railcard will give you a third off train fares and it costs just £30 a year.
British nationals born on or before 2nd September 1929 could get a free passport. You’ll need a full 10-year passport if you want to go abroad whatever your age, even if it’s for a short trip.
Pub and carvery meal discounts
The Diamond Club card offers discounts on meals in pubs and carveries for diners over 50. You’ll earn one point for every £1 spent and as a nice little extra you'll get a free drink on your birthday. Cheers!
Odeon, Vue and Cineworld all hold cheaper screenings for 'seniors' during the week, complete with a cup of tea and a biscuit.
A lot of museums offer money off for senior citizens. The National Trust offers reduced price membership too.