Advice Direct Scotland is urging people to check their benefit entitlements after it emerged that hundreds of thousands of low-income households are being cut off from essential Pension Credit support.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched a dedicated ‘day of action’ on June 15 to raise awareness of the benefit which could see older married couples receive up to £278.70 a week and those who live alone, up to £182.60.
The DWP said around £1.7billion of available pension credit went unclaimed across the UK, amounting to around £1,900 on average for each eligible household. The DWP also pointed out that seven out of 10 people eligible for the gateway benefit have claimed it.
Consumer champion Martin Lewis has teamed up with the DWP to encourage nearly a million older people to check if they are eligible
The founder of MoneySavingExpert.com explained: “My simple rule of thumb is that if you (or someone you know) are aged 66 or over and your total income is less than around £200 a week, log on or call the pension credit application line. to see if you are eligible for a payment of up to £3,300 a year.
“I’m not saying everyone will have it, but many will, and it only takes a few minutes to find out. So don’t delay, just call.
Martin added: ‘Not only is this money serious, but it’s also often a bridging fee which means you are entitled to a range of other help, such as local tax cuts, the extra help of £650 energy funding, Warm Home rebate, housing allowance, dental and optical care and, for over 75s, a free TV licence.
Advice Direct Scotland has a free online calculator specially designed for Scotland, which allows people to check their entitlement to earmarked and devolved benefits.
It also gives information on where to get housing advice, council tax reductions and support available from local authorities.
Colin Mathieson, spokesperson for Advice Direct Scotland, said: “The cost of living has risen for everyone in recent months, with budgets stretched to breaking point for many.
“There are practical things we can do to try to improve our situation in the face of rising costs. Many Scottish citizens do not claim the full benefits to which they are entitled.
You can check your entitlement to support, including Scottish Devolved Benefits, using the benefit calculator available at www.advice.scot.