Pension benefits & entitlements: Council Tax Reduction, Savings Credit, Pension Credit & more

Many pensioners are failing to claim the various benefits, credits and discounts that they are eligible for. Here's a rundown of all the help available to older Brits – make sure you don't miss out.

Pensioners not claiming benefits

More than half of eligible pensioner homeowners are failing to claim their full benefit entitlement, the latest research from retirement firm Just Group has found.

The firm’s latest report found that 42% of eligible older people are not claiming any of the benefits they are entitled to, missing out on an average of £830 a year. A further 20% are at least claiming some of the benefits they could get, but not their full entitlement, missing out on a typical £702 a year.

That's particularly worrying given that more and more of us are retiring with sizeable debts still to clear.

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group, said that the study showed that “meaningful sums” which would make a real difference to the living standards of older people are going unclaimed.

He added: “It reflects the government’s own figures that show billions go unclaimed and raises serious questions about whether people in most need are able to navigate the complexities of the benefits system.” 

The benefits being missed

The study notes that Guarantee Pension Credit is the main benefit aimed at low-income pensioners, and has the highest take up of the main benefits available to older people with 80% of those eligible claiming.

That nonetheless means one in five are missing out on an average of £2,656 extra income per year.

Savings Pension Credit has the lowest take-up, at just 33% of those eligible, with those who do not make a claim missing out on £576 per year. 

Council Tax Reduction also has a poor take-up, at just 47%. Those failing to claim are facing an annual shortfall of an average of £796.

It would appear that a large factor in the poor take-up of these benefits is that many people have no idea about them or whether they might qualify for payments.

Lowe added: “Our research last year found that nearly half (48%) of homeowners aged over-65 had never checked their entitlement to State benefits compared to just one in seven (14%) who are renting. It reinforces the message that benefits information is integral to retirement guidance and that those struggling for income should check if they are missing out.”

Claim what you're entitled to

Of course, it's not just about Government help: there are loads of perks, discounts and incentives reserved for older Brits.

Even a little bit of extra financial help can make a huge difference, so we've rounded up loads of extra perks that you can take advantage of.

Note that some will be available from just 50 years of age, while others are only for those aged 60 and upwards.

If you've taken advantage of all the assistance you can get and are still struggling, take a look at this guide to boosting your income in retirement.

How to claim credits and benefits

Top up your pension income

Pension Credit is made up of two parts, namely Guarantee Pension Credit and Savings Credit.

The purpose of Guaranteee Pension Credit is to top up low incomes, bringing them up to a minimum of £173.75 for single people and £265.20 for a couple.

Savings Credit is an additional payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement, such as a workplace pension. 

It is worth up to £13.97 for individuals or up to £15.62 for couples.

Take a look at this page to see if you can benefit.

Get help with your Council Tax

You could get a helping hand with your Council Tax through the Council Tax Reduction scheme. In fact, your bill could be reduced by up to 100%.

What you can get will come down to a host of factors, including your location (each council runs its own scheme), your household income and what level of savings you have.

You can apply for Council Tax reduction through this section of the Government’s website.

Read more: 9 ways to stretch your funds in retirement

Free prescriptions

It now costs £9.15 for an NHS prescription but if you’re aged 60 or over and living in England, you won’t have to pay anything.

If you live somewhere else in the UK, you're obviously entitled to free prescriptions regardless of your age. 

Save on pharmacy meds with ChemistDirect

Help with your heating

No one should have to choose between heating and eating, which is why the Government has a few initiatives in place to help cover your heating in the bitter winter months.

Get help with heatign your home (Image: Shutterstock)

Winter Fuel Payment

The Winter Fuel Payment helps those born on or before 5 October 1954 keep warm during the winter. The amount of money you get depends on your age and who lives in your house, ranging from £100-£300 a year.

The deadline for claiming payments for this winter is 31 March 2021.

Those who have received it in previous years shouldn’t have to make another claim – it’ll be given to you automatically.

What’s more, you should receive it automatically if you meet the age and residence criteria and receive another Government benefit including State Pension, Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.

Learn more here, or ring the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 0800 731 0160 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm to claim. 

Cold Weather Payment

You’ll receive a £25 payment when your local temperature is either recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days between 1 November and 31 March each year.

If you’re entitled to other income-related benefits like Pension Credit, you’ll be eligible for Cold Weather Payments. It’ll be paid automatically too.

If it isn’t, tell your pension centre or Jobcentre Plus office or if you’re getting Universal Credit, contact 0800 328 9344.

Warm Homes Discount

You can also get £140 off your electricity bill through the Warm Homes Discount scheme.

It won't be paid to you directly: it's a one-off lump sum that will be taken off your electricity bill at some point between September and March.

You'll qualify for the discount if, on 7 July 2019, all of the following apply:

Insulation and heating schemes

You can free loft insulation and other energy efficiency improvements from your energy supplier under the Energy Company Obligation and sometimes through other grants.

Contact the Energy Saving Trust (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and Nest (Wales) for more information.

Health

Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payments (PIP), formerly the Disability Living Allowance, will cover you if you have long-term ill-health or a disability if you’re aged 16 to 64.

The financial support you receive depends on how the condition affects you, not the actual condition itself, but you’ll get between £23.60 and £151.40 a week.

Find out how it'll affect you on the Government's website

Attendance Allowance

People who are over 65 could get help with personal care if they’re physically or mentally disabled. It’s paid at two different rates (higher and lower) and the amount you get is dependent on how much care you need.

Other benefits that you already get may be increased on top of it, but you could get £59.70 or £89.15 a week as standard, depending on whether you need lower or higher rate care.

Free eye tests for over 60s

Over 60s can also get free eye tests and there’s 20% off glasses at Specsavers on ranges for over 60s to boot.

You could also get help towards dental treatment as well as travel costs to the hospital.

Travel

Elderly Brits can get free or discounted travel on buses and trains (Image: Shutterstock)

Free bus pass

Those living in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland qualify for a free bus pass when they reach the age of 60.

In England it’s slightly more complicated. Women will get a bus pass when they reach State Pension age, whereas men will only qualify when they reach the pensionable age of a woman born on the same day as them.

Get more information on how to apply here.

Senior Railcard

Senior Railcard will give you a third off standard and first-class anytime, off-peak and advance fares and it costs just £30 for the one-year card or £70 for the three-year option.

Free passport

British nationals born on or before 2nd September 1929 could get a free passport, saving you up to £95.

Heading abroad? Don't forget the travel insurance

Entertainment, shopping and culture

Silver screenings

Odeon and Vue hold cheaper screenings for 'seniors' during the week, complete with a cup of tea and a biscuit.

See How to get cheap and free cinema tickets for more details.

Museums

A lot of museums offer money off for senior citizens. The National Trust offers reduced-price membership too. 

War pensioners and widows

If your partner died as a result of their service in the Armed Forces or during a time of war, then you may be entitled to a War Widow’s or Widower’s Pension.

Get your claim form from Veterans UK by phoning 0808 1914 218.

Home repairs

Age UK offers handyperson services across most of the country to give older people help with small practical jobs.

You can enter your postcode on this page to see if this is available where you live.

They can help with small repairs, installing safety measures like a smoke alarm, home security and energy efficiency checks.

You can call Age UK to see what services they can help you find on 0800 678 1602 or search for your local centre online.

*This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently.

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