Are you receiving a pension in Cheltenham? If not, do you know someone who is? I’m asking because you, or someone you care for, could be entitled to thousands of pounds in extra Government support.
I was concerned by figures announced this week which showed that an estimated one third of pensioners in the UK eligible for Pension Credit are missing out on this key benefit. That means hundreds of people in Cheltenham have yet to access a pot of support worth £3.5m a year to our town alone.
This simply has to be addressed. Not only is Pension Credit worth on average over £3,300 a year, it also unlocks a range of other support. This includes a free TV licence, the £650 extra energy funding help, council tax reduction schemes and free NHS and dental care.
A simple rule of thumb is if you or someone you know are aged 66 or older, and have total income of under roughly £200 a week, get online or call the Pension Credit claim line to see if you’re due a payment.
All the details of the scheme, plus ways you can help friends or relatives to check whether they're eligible can be found by calling 0800 99 1234. Or you can go online at gov.uk.
This support is in addition to the funding Government is providing to support families, worth over billion £37 billion this year alone. This includes raising the National Insurance threshold, cutting the Universal Credit taper rate, and raising the National Living Wage.
From July, employees who earn £36,600 or under (around 70% of workers) will pay less National Insurance, saving a typical employee over £330 a year. And with the increased income tax allowance, the first £12,570 a year is completely tax-free.
It is now more important than ever that every penny of support for Cheltenham gets where it is most needed.
[Column first published in the Glos Echo]