A national charity has said it has seen a ‘significant’ rise in the number of over 65s from Blackpool accessing benefits help on its website
Anti-poverty charity Turn2us is warning that the resort’s pensioners are struggling to cope on state pension alone and that more financial support is needed for OAPs.
In the last 12 months, the charity has seen a 23 per cent increase in over 65s from Blackpool accessing benefits help on its website.
This is higher than the charity’s national figure at nine per cent. The figures included enquiries from both pensioners and their carers.
Matthew Geer, Turn2us campaigns manager, says it is a ‘worrying trend’ – and wants people to check what they are entitled to.
He added: “We know from our research that some older people are in need of additional financial support but don’t always know what’s available to them, or struggle to access what help there is.
“The benefits system is complex, and we know that older people in particular struggle to navigate the minefield. We work with thousands of older people every year who are struggling financially and who are not aware they could be receiving Pension Credit, along with their state pension.
“That’s why, this Pension Awareness Day, we are encouraging people to check what they’re entitled to and seek help if they are struggling.
“Anyone who is concerned about their money or on behalf of a parent or person they care for can visit our website or talk to our helpline for additional support.”
Turn2us is a national anti-poverty charity that provides help via its benefits calculator, helpline and grants search tool.
Over the last year, more than 11 million people visited its website, with more than two million people completing a benefits calculation.
The news also comes during the same year it was announced that over 75s free TV licenses will be scrapped by June 2020.
Gazette community correspondent and Grange Park resident Terry Bennett says he has to budget every month and can find it difficult. The 77-year-old said: “I think most people are struggling what with the austerity and cuts.
“I am on just a basic state pension and some pension credit and you will be surprised how little I have left over after I have paid all of the bills.
“Sometimes I might not have much left over to to buy clothing or food for example and you get to a point where you can’t cut down.
“I don’t think there is many people in Blackpool who are having a luxurious retirement.
“It’s a popular misconception that all old people are sitting on a good pot when they retire, only those who have had top jobs are.
“That’s why you have so many struggling later in life. I have to budget to the extent that I check how much I’m getting from the bank and calculate it from there. Some people won’t budget at all and that is why they struggle.
Terry also believes more and more services are online only and pensioners are losing out.
He said: “There are plenty of people I know who don’t know how to use computers or the internet.
“One person I know was bought a laptop by her grandchildren and she just couldn’t get to use it at all and gave it back.
“They haven’t been brought up with computers so it’s a difficult thing to learn later in life.
Ron Douglas, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) president said: “Older consumers without access to the internet are being punished, and this has got to stop.”
Figures from the NPC show that 3.8 million people aged 65 and over have never used the internet.
Turn2us says those over 65 may be eligible for the following financial support:
- Pension age
- Pension Credit
- Winter Fuel Payments
- Attendance Allowance
- Housing costs
Carers of those over 65 may be eligible for the following help:
- Carer’s Allowance
- Universal Credit
- Carers’ Credit
- Pension Credit
The charity recommends that those who are worried about financial support visit www.turn2us.org.uk or call its helpline on 0808 802 2000 to check what benefits or charitable grants they may be eligible for.