Many pensioners are under huge financial pressure at the moment due to the cost of living crisis, so as part of its Money-saving Monday series, Which? is highlighting a number of ways for them to boost their incomes.
1. Housing Benefit
Those who claim pension credit might be able to get some or all of their rent paid in full by their local authority. There are two ways to claim – either at the same time as claiming pension credit or by contacting the local council directly. There is no limit to the amount of housing benefit someone receives, it will depend on whether they rent privately or from a council.
If you own your home, you won’t be eligible for housing benefit, but you could get help paying your mortgage interest.
2. Medical freebies and discounts
In England, people aged 60 and above are eligible for free NHS prescriptions and eye tests. However, you will only be entitled to free NHS dental treatment if receiving the guarantee credit part of pension credit.
Those who receive the guarantee credit part of pension credit can also claim help with travel costs to the hospital.
The government’s eligibility test can help you find out whether there are any NHS costs you can get help with.
3. Carer perks
Pensioners who are carers and receive a carer’s allowance might be able to get what’s known as the ‘carer addition’ included in their pension credit payments, worth up to £38.85 per week. To receive the carer addition, you need to spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone who needs regular and substantial care.
4. Free TV Licence
In August 2020, the BBC introduced a new scheme that offers some over-75s a free TV Licence. Those aged 75 and over who receive pension credit, or with a partner living at the same address receiving pension credit, are able to claim a free licence.
From 2024, the BBC will be able to verify automatically whether a person gets Pension Credit with the DWP, so pensioners can apply online or over the phone without the need to supply extra paperwork.
5. Warm Home Discount
People who receive the guarantee credit element of pension credit will qualify for the Warm Home Discount, which could grant £150 off the electricity bills for winter 2022-23 under the scheme. The qualifying date for claiming is usually in July – those eligible should receive a discount the following winter.
You should have received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) between October 2022 and January 2023 telling you how to get the discount if you qualify. If you didn’t receive a letter by mid-January 2023, contact the Warm Home Discount helpline on 0800 731 0214 before 28 February 2023.
6. Cold Weather Payment
The Cold Weather Payment scheme runs from 1 November 2022 to 31 March 2023 and gives £25 payments for each seven-day period of cold weather. Claimants of any other income-related benefits (such as pension credit, income support, or Universal Credit) are eligible.
People in Scotland cannot get Cold Weather Payments – but you might get the annual £50 Winter Heating Payment instead. You’ll get this payment regardless of weather conditions in your area.
7. Winter fuel payment
Those born on or before 25 September 1956 could get between £100 and £300 to help with heating bill costs, but need to have lived in the UK for at least one day during the qualifying week (19-25 September in 2022).
Recipients of the state pension or certain other benefits usually get the payment automatically between November and December. The government announced a £300 cost of living top-up for 2022. There will be another £300 payment either towards the end of 2023 or early 2024.
8. Cheaper days out
Pensioners, or those aged 65 and over, are eligible for discounts on a range of leisure activities including museum visits, cinema tickets, sports tickets. For example, English Heritage and National Trust offer discounts on memberships and Odeon, Vue and Empire cinemas offer cheaper tickets to pensioners.
9. Travel discounts
It is also possible to save money on travel if you’re over a certain age. In Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and London you can claim a bus pass for free travel from the age of 60 – in the rest of England you usually only become eligible for one when you reach state pension age.
Another way to save on transport is with a Senior Railcard. They are available to those over 60 and grant a third off standard and first class anytime, off-peak and advance rail fares.
Some travel operators offer discounts for older people. For example, National Express has a Senior Coachcard, which costs £12.50 (plus £2.50 postage and packing) for 12 months travel and offers a third off your travel. You need to be 60 years old to apply.
Reena Sewraz, Which? Money Expert, said:
“If you’re a pensioner in the UK, make sure you are getting all the help you’re entitled to this winter.
“A simple way to do this is claiming pension credit. Even if you’re only eligible for a small amount, it’s still worth doing as it can help unlock more benefits and perks such as the additional £300 cost of living payment the government has announced.
“But don’t stop there. There are several steps you can take to boost your income, as well as plenty of discounts and freebies to take advantage of once you hit a certain age .”
Notes to editors:
- Over the coming months, Which? will be highlighting free and useful money-saving advice every Monday to help consumers manage the ongoing cost of living crisis. The series will cover a range of topics, from how to save money on household bills, to childcare and travel.
- 9 pensioner perks and benefits to boost your income
- Pension calculator – how much will I have?
- Which? My Money Health Check
- Which? Money Podcast
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