Age Concern Swindon has pledged to put an extra ??600,000 into the pockets of older people before April 2008 to mark the launch of its 'Your Rights' campaign.
The new, year-long campaign aims to build on the success of previous years by helping more local residents than ever before claim the benefits they are entitled to. Kicking off today, the campaign will focus on different benefits every two months starting with Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit during April and May.
Further increases in council tax bills are once again stretching the finances of many older people in the borough yet around ??1.2 billion of Council Tax Benefit went unclaimed by older people in the UK last year, with almost 50% of those entitled to claim (up to two million pensioners) missing out.
Les and Beryl Fox whom Age Concern Swindon helped to claim benefits, said: "Many of us OAPs do not realise the many state benefits available to us or may find it complicated to apply for them. Age Concern Swindon is there to help us. For your own well-being, go along for a friendly chat with their helpful advisors who will do all they can to help you"
Age Concern director Jo Osorio, pictured,said, "Despite millions of pensioners finding it hard to make ends meet across the country, up to ??4.2billion of money benefits is left unclaimed by millions of older people each year.
"Many older people miss out because they don’t realise that they are entitled to extra cash, don’t know how to claim, think the system is too complicated, or feel there is a stigma attached and would rather ??make do’. Yet Age Concern Swindon offers clear, free and confidential help and advice which can overcome these obstacles."
Val Newell, welfare benefits service manager at Age Concern Swindon said: "In the past year, we’ve helped hundreds of local older people claim benefits worth over ??600,000. Yet thousands more older people in the borough may still be missing out on cash that is rightfully theirs.
"Claiming the benefits they’re entitled to can make a massive difference to an older person’s quality of life. On average those older people missing out on claiming Council Tax benefit are losing ??580 per year.
"Claiming really doesn’t have to be difficult. We and the Pension Service have benefits advisors available throughout the year to provide help and information to older people across town. We would urge all older people in the area to pop in to Number One Milton Road for a benefits check on Monday, Wednesday (Pension Service "surgery") or Friday mornings or call 692166 to request a home visit if need be."
Age Concern’s bestselling book, ??Your Rights: a guide to money benefits for older people’, has been updated and is available from today. Copies are available from Number One Milton Road price ??5.99 + 1.99 postage and packing, or call our hotline on 0870 44 22 120 to order your copy now.