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Citizens Advice in drive to help people claim what’s theirs in later life

31 January 2012

Older people missing out on millions in unclaimed benefits, figures show

National charity Citizens Advice has published a new leaflet to help people prepare for later life armed with all the information they need about the financial help they may be entitled to.

Help yourself to prepare for later life is written by CAB experts and sponsored by Sun Life Direct, with the aim of ensuring people don’t miss out on benefits available in retirement.

Official figures show that up to £20 billion in means-tested benefits and tax credits go unclaimed every year.* Older people are most likely to be missing out on pension credit and council tax benefit.

As many as 1.6 million pensioners are missing out on an average of £34 a week in pension credit, while up to 2.9million households in all age groups are missing out on an average £14 a week in council tax benefit.*

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:

“This huge amount of unclaimed benefit adds up to millions of people missing out on the help they should be getting to make ends meet. Many people find that their income goes down as they get older andthey eithercut down their working hours or choose to retire, so it makes sense to find out waysto increase your income and reduce your outgoings before then.

“We want to make sure people don’t miss out on benefits they may be entitled to. With the cost of living going up by the day and people feeling a real squeeze on household budgets, it’s more important than ever they know what extra help’s available and how to claim it.”

She said there were many reasons why people don’t claim the money due to them:

“A lot of people simply don’t know about the help that’s out there. Others are put off because the system can seem very daunting. Some think the amount they get will not be worth the trouble. But all too often they are missing out on substantial amounts of extra cash that could make a real difference to their lives.”

Simon Cox, Head of Life Planning at Sun Life Direct said:

“We know from Sun Life Direct’s own research and customer feedback that many people do not have access to the money they need later on in life, which can be very distressing; in addition customers told us they wanted to understand what benefits they are entitled to. It is a sobering thought that so many people in or around retirement are not claiming what they are entitled, which could make a real difference in helping them cope at what we all know is a difficult time “

Help yourself to prepare for later life outlines all the help available – people can pick one up from their local CAB, where they can also get a free, confidential and independent benefit check. The leaflet covers: Claiming a pension; help if you continue working; help if you are on a low income; help if you are sick and disabled; help with fuel bills; help when someone dies; and useful contacts.

CAB advisers deal with more than 8,000 new benefit enquiries every working day and can help people navigate the complexities of the system, identifying all the extra help they should be getting and assisting with the claims process. Go to our website www.adviceguide.org.uk for contact details of your nearest CAB.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at adviceguide.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.