Pensioner perks: Winter Fuel Payment, cheaper insurance and more


Updated on 31 July 2020

Growing old comes with many benefits, although you may be overlooking some of the financial perks thanks to cheaper prices and some free products.

How to soften over 75's TV Licence blow

Millions of pensioners will have one more bill to worry about come August.

That's because the BBC has decided to scrap the free TV Licence for over 75s, meaning previously exempt households will need to pay £157 for a licence (£53 for watching a black and white TV) unless someone in the home receives Pension Credit.

Given all that's going on in the world, it's fair to say the timing isn't ideal (although to be fair the BBC did delay the change from its original June date).

What it does highlight is the importance of taking advantage of all discounts, freebies and benefits available to help pensioners stretch their budgets.

From free bus travel to cheaper car insurance, the Winter Fuel Payment, and benefits for grandparents, there’s a host of benefits on offer.

If you’re a pensioner, approaching retirement, or know someone who is, it’s well worth finding out what benefits and discounts you’re entitled to.

Here we’ve listed nine of the best below.

Lower car insurance prices

As you get older, one bill you can expect to go down is your car insurance.

This is because typically older people drive less and shorter distances and are seen as less risky by insurers. 

In comparison, younger drivers have the highest average car insurance premiums because they are statistically more likely to have an accident.

A spokesperson for Direct Line explained: “As a rule of thumb, for motor insurance, premiums do decrease as a driver gets older and more experienced.

“However, statistics show that as drivers continue to age, their claims frequencies are likely to increase.

“Reasons for this are lifestyle changes causing infrequency in driving, and our reflexes diminishing as we get older, which will have an impact on driving abilities and reactions.

“Whilst claims frequency does increase amongst these drivers, these do tend to be less severe than young drivers as they are mostly at low speed.”

Age isn’t the only factor when it comes to car insurance pricing.

There are lots of other elements involved such as: your address, the kind of car you have, how often you use it, and your previous claims history. 

So, while on average claims will be lower as you get older, if you live in a high-risk area, or you have previously claimed, your car insurance will reflect this. 

Older motorists enjoy cheaper car insurance (Image: Shutterstock)

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Grandparent Allowance

Grandparents who look after grandchildren aged 12 or under are able to claim National Insurance credits, which can boost their retirement income.

In order to qualify, the grandparent needs to regularly look after their grandchild (or grandchildren) and be below State Pension age.

The benefit is called the ‘Specified Adult Childcare National Insurance Credits’ and was introduced in 2011. 

Instead of receiving money, the grandparent receives credits to top up their National Insurance contributions, in the same way they would if they were working.

By receiving these contributions, they won’t miss out on being able to build up their State Pension entitlement.

To claim the benefit, you’ll need to apply with the form ‘CA9176’ which is available via the HM Revenue & Customs website.

It’s also possible to claim for previous years.

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Free bus travel

Older people get free bus travel in England (Image: Shutterstock)

In England, you can apply for a free older person’s bus pass when you reach the State Pension age for women (whether you’re a man or a woman).

Those living in London can travel on the bus, tube and Overground trains for free when they turn 60.

In Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, you can apply for a free bus pass when you turn 60. 

These bus passes entitle you to free off-peak bus travel, usually between 9.30am and the last service during the week, and all-day during weekends and bank holidays.

You can apply for the pass online at the Gov.co.uk website

Discounted train travel is also available with a Senior Railcard to those aged 60 or over. It knocks off a third from train tickets.

You can buy one online or in a ticket office for £30 for a one-year pass or £70 for a three-year pass. 

£10 Christmas bonus

There is a little-known £10 bonus paid, usually in the first week of December, to those receiving certain benefits, including the State Pension and Pension Credit. 

The tax-free bonus is paid automatically to those who are eligible.

If you think you should be eligible and haven’t received the Christmas bonus, contact Jobcentre Plus or the pension centre that deals with your payments.

It was first introduced in 1972 to cover the cost of a Christmas dinner and is paid out to around 13 million people each year.

Here’s how much the State Pension is currently worth

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.

Those living in the rest of the UK are entitled to free prescriptions whatever their age. 

Save on pharmacy meds with ChemistDirect

You won’t have to pay NI (even if you're still working)

When you start working, you begin to make National Insurance (NI) contributions, which add up to allow you to receive benefits, including the State Pension.

For those who are employed, Class 1 contributions are a percentage of the amount you earn.

Those who are self-employed need to pay Class 2 contributions as a flat rate and Class 4 as a percentage of how much you earn. 

When you reach State Pension age, you stop paying Class 1 and Class 2 contributions, even if you are still working.

You still pay Class 4 contributions if you have taxable profits from the year you reach State Pension age (but these then stop). 

Discounted days out

Cheap days out for older couples (Image: Shutterstock)

If it’s days out you’re looking for (and assuming it's safe to do so), there are discounts available for those aged over 60. 

A National Trust Senior membership, for example, is 25% cheaper if you’re over 60 bringing the cost down to £54 instead of £72 for an annual pass. 

The English Heritage Society offers a senior pass for £51 (instead of £60) for those aged over 65.

Looking for outdoor activities? Join English Heritage from £4 a month

Winter Fuel Payment

If you were born on or before 5 April 1954, you could get a discount on your annual bills in the form of a tax-free lump sum of between £100 and £300 to help pay your energy bill.

This Winter Fuel Payment is made automatically if you’re receiving the State Pension.

But you’re receiving the Winter Fuel payment, and you think you are eligible, you can make a claim directly by phone or post to the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.

Contact details can be found on this Gov.co.uk webpage 

Boots Over 60s Rewards

If you’re over 60, you can boost your points at Boots and get money off certain products with the Over 60s Rewards scheme – with the Advantage Card.

You can get 10 points per £1 you spend on Boots branded products.

This is more generous than four points on offer per £1 you spend in Boots outside of the scheme, although the points also can be earnt when buying branded goods.

On top of this, Over 60 Rewards can save you 25% on your first pair of glasses and you can earn extra points with your first hearing check.

With exclusive in-store events and 20% off personalised photo gifts, there’s a lot on offer for those over the age of 60.

Of course, how much money you save or how much you boost your points depends on how often you shop at Boots, and what you buy.

So, if you’re not a fan of Boots branded products and have little interest in the extra benefits, this scheme might not quite be a right fit for you.

 

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