Pensioners missing out on help in cold

HUNDREDS of pensioners across the north Essex area are worrying how to afford to stay warm and healthy this winter because of high food and energy costs, Age Concern Colchester warned yesterday.

Roddy Ashworth

HUNDREDS of pensioners across the north Essex area are worrying how to afford to stay warm and healthy this winter because of high food and energy costs, Age Concern Colchester warned yesterday.

Research carried out by the charity revealed that around half of pensioners in north Essex are likely to be cutting back on food and two-thirds cutting back on gas and electricity to make ends meet.

As part of its 'More Money in Your Pocket campaign' the charity is urging pensioners to claim the extra financial help available for health and heating costs and benefits such as Pension Credit to help take some of the worry out of winter bills.

Many older people are unaware that if they either claim Pension Credit guarantee or have a low income, they could be entitled to free NHS dental check-ups and treatment, repayment of hospital travel costs and vouchers towards the cost of glasses and contact lenses.

Benefit recipients are also entitled to grants for heating improvements through the Government's Warm Front scheme and should also be able to claim free insulation through their energy supplier.

Most Read

However, figures show that up to �5 billion of Pension Credit, Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit is unclaimed by older people each year.

Age Concern research published yesterday shows that almost two-thirds of older people in the UK are more worried about staying warm and well this winter than last, but millions are missing out on this extra cash, which could dramatically improve their standard of living.

Many pensioners in Colchester are losing out on benefits such as Pension Credit because they find the system difficult to understand, are embarrassed about claiming or simply don't realise they're entitled to the extra cash.

Lin Roberts, Information and Community Services Manager for Age Concern Colchester, said: “We know that many older people in the Colchester area are really worried about whether they can afford to stay warm and well this winter, because of increased living costs.

“Yet many of those on low incomes struggling to make ends meet are entitled to benefits, such as Pension Credit, and help with health and heating costs - which could make a huge difference.

“We would encourage any older person finding it hard to make ends meet to contact Age Concern Colchester on 01206 368420 for free advice and information or to come to our Winter Warmth Day at the Lion Walk Activity Centre on Friday January 16 between 10 am and 2 pm.

“We can arrange for a full benefits check and can make it easy to claim the benefits you may be missing out on.”

Age Concern Colchester is urging any older person struggling with living costs to contact them, as they can help make claiming benefits simple.

The charity offers, free, clear and confidential information and advice, help with filling in forms and can even offer home visits.