Over the summer, I wrote to pensioners across Rutherglen and Hamilton West after figures released by the charity Independent Age revealed that over 3000 households in the constituency are missing out on more than £8.7 million a year in unclaimed Pension Credit.
With recent news that the BBC is set to scrap the free TV license for the over 75s who are not in receipt of pension credit, pensioners who are missing out on this support are set to be even worse off from June 2020.
Last week, I held a special surgery with representatives from Money Matters offering advice and support to those who contacted me about their Pension Credit and the upcoming changes to the TV license.
Across Scotland, more than £300 million is going unclaimed by 123,000 households, and in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, the average payment being missed out on is £53.84 per week.
Pension Credit was one of the greatest achievements of the last Labour Government and went a long way towards lifting over a million pensioners out of poverty, but the Tories have disgracefully allowed it to go back up on their watch.
In the last 10 years, the Government hasn’t managed to increase its uptake beyond 63 per cent.
There are two types – Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
To be eligible for Guarantee Pension Credit, you must be state pension age and have a weekly income below the minimum amount the government determines you need to live on – usually £167.25 for a single person, or £255.25 for a couple.
If you receive Guarantee Credit, you will be entitled to claim other benefits such as free NHS dental treatment, free sight tests, vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses, and travel costs to and from hospital for NHS treatment.
You will only qualify for Savings Credit if you reached state pension age before April 6, 2016, or have a partner who reached state pension age before this date and was already receiving it.
If you’re eligible, you or your partner must have reached state pension age and have a qualifying income of at least £144.38 a week for a single person, or £229.67 for a couple.
Those who receive either type of Pension Credit will also usually receive a Cold Weather Payment of £25 each time the average temperature in their area is recorded or forecast as 0°C or below for seven days in a row.
It is disgraceful that the poorest pensioners have missed out on £7bn of Pension Credit since the last election. Some of the most vulnerable people are being left without much-needed income.
The Government must right this wrong and do more to increase the take-up of Pension Credit.
To find out if you are eligible or to make a claim, call the Pension Service claim line free on 0800 99 1234.
Anyone requiring further support or assistance is also very welcome to call my constituency office on 0141 641 0075.