THE Northumberland branch of a national charity is urging older people to claim all the benefits for which they are entitled.
Rising living costs are causing significant hardship for pensioners with nearly half saying they are just getting by, or worse.
An Age UK survey this year found that nearly one in five pensioners cut back on their heating last winter to make ends meet.
This is particularly worrying in the face of an extra 25,000 people dying during the winter months in recent years.
But every year over £5 billion in Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefits is going unclaimed by older people.
Non-means tested benefits are also unclaimed – especially Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance.
Many people don’t realise they’re eligible, think the claiming process is too complicated or intrusive or feel too proud to make a claim.
But Age UK Northumberland helped Mary claim her entitlements after her husband died.
She owned her own home and had a small occupational pension on top of her state pension.
After helping her claim Attendance Allowance, Pension Credit and Council Tax Benefit, Mary is £92 per week better off.
She’s going to use that money to make sure her home is warm this winter and for taxis to get out and about and keep her independence.
Contact Age UK Northumberland’s advice line, which is open from 10am to 1pm from Monday to Thursday, on 08450 950150 or 01665 605707 or the free national line, open 365 days a year from 8am to 7pm, on 0800 169 6565.
If any groups want an Age UK representative to come and talk to them about benefits, particularly Attendance Allowance and how you can promote take-up in your local community, contact Angela Clough or Patricia Wilson on 01665 511571.