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Thousands of elderly living in poverty in Hampshire
10:00am Sunday 27th October 2013 in News
THOUSANDS of Southampton’s elderly are living in unnecessary poverty, a new study has revealed.
The report shows that 4,400 of the city’s poorest pensioners are missing out on benefits that could significantly improve their standard of living.
It comes as help groups in Hampshire report growing numbers of pensioners struggling to make ends meet.
Philip Voce, chairman of Age UK Winchester, said his organisation, in conjunction with the Andover branch, had helped the elderly claim more than £50,000 in entitlements this year.
He said: “With all of these people it’s the cost of living: shopping, utilities, gas and water are all going up beyond the rate of inflation and pensions are not going up in line with those costs.
“A lot of older people who live on their own do not have family to advise them and the paperwork is quite complicated and I would like to see that simplified.”
About 1,500 pensioners are missing out in Winchester, 1,500 in Test Valley, 2,900 in the New Forest, and 1,900 in Basingstoke and Deane.
Nationwide, up to 38 per cent of pensioners – about 1.6 million – are failing to claim Pension Credit – designed as a pension ‘top-up’.
Those eligible could see their income rise to at least £145.40 a week.
The numbers have been gathered by Independent Age using data from the Department for Work and Pensions, who are responsible for the benefit.
Victoria Richards, of Independent Age, said: “In some cases Pension Credit can also passport pensioners to other benefits such as council tax and housing benefit. And when claimed with Attendance Allowance, it can almost double some people’s incomes.”
Cllr Tony Coates, portfolio holder for neighbourhoods and environment at Winchester City Council, said the problem is the responsibility of the Government.
He said: “It’s a question of bringing horses to water. You can advise people to do certain things but they do not necessarily do it.
“Do you think the city council should be doing the job of the Government? I would say there have been cuts and there is a limit to what we can do.”
Independent Age has launched a free Wise Guide book to help pensioners put more cash in their pockets. To order, call 0845 262 1863.
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