Older People Under Financial Pressure

By: Mark_dawson
Thousands of older people across Britain could be putting themselves under unnecessary financial pressure, a new set of figures indicates.

In research conducted by the London School of Economics (LSE) for the British Gas/Help the Aged Partnership, pensioners could be losing out on a total of some 50,000 pounds over the course of their lifetime by not claiming all the money they are entitled to receive. According to the company, about half of all the country's older citizens are eligible to claim enough cash to cover their heating costs and be lifted out of 'fuel poverty'. And as a result of getting such help with their finances, people may find that they are in a better position to meet other demands on their spending such as mortgages, credit cards and loan costs. Overall, the LSE suggested that a total of 4.5 billion pounds in unclaimed benefits for older people is lying in government coffers.

Pointing to the typical case of unclaimed benefits, it was suggested that a 65-year-old woman who does not make the most of what she is entitled to is losing out on some 25 pounds per week. Consequently, such a consumer could be receiving more than 30,000 pounds over the remainder of her expected lifetime. In turn, this is a figure that could greatly reduce the constraints on many consumers' finances, whether this is related to making loan repayments or paying off credit cards.

Meanwhile, getting an extra 50 pounds per week would equate to yet more in additional benefits. However, the study also uncovered that about one in three pensioners do not know where to go to seek help with benefits - a statistic that may indicate that many older people may struggle in receiving advice with their personal finances.

Commenting on the LSE findings, Anna Pearson, spokesperson for the British Gas/Help the Aged Partnership, said: "Our recent research revealed that more than one million older people cut back on food to cover their heating costs. With individual pensioners possibly eligible for up to 50,000 pounds, our message to older people is - you've got to claim it to gain it."

As a result, the partnership has called on the government to bring in an automatic benefit payment scheme for older people, as well as putting more money into face-to-face financial advisory programmes.

Similar concerns were echoed earlier this year. According to Helen Wanless, senior press officer at Age Concern, one in three Britons aged 60 and above are unaware that they are able to receive pension credits. She added that many people found the claiming process to be too complicated, although getting such money could well provide help with money management for many people. According to the Commons public accounts committee some 1.6 million of the over-60s could be missing out on about 2.1 billion pounds which is waiting to be claimed. Consequently, Ms Wanless urged that the government must do more in boosting consumers' awareness of such a product. However, even after receiving credits should consumers discover that they still have problems in managing their finances, applying for a cheap loan could be one way in which to provide help with spending.
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