Adam backs charity campaign to combat pensioner poverty
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BANFFSHIRE and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam has backed a campaign to ensure pensioners are claiming all the benefits they are eligible for.
Age Scotland's ‘Check in, Cash Out’ initiative has exposed the extent of unclaimed money which is vital financial support that older people in Scotland are eligible for.
Ms Adam said: “Pension Credit is one of the most underclaimed social security payments with an estimated 40 per cent of eligible people missing out.
"Claiming Pension Credit also 'passports' the recipient to other financial support which can make a big difference – such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction and Cold Weather Payments, amongst others.
“Whereas many social policy areas were devolved to the Scottish Parliament by the Scotland Act 1998, responsibility for social security (as well as child support and pensions) was designated a reserved power and therefore remains under the control of Westminster. The Tory Government is letting down pensioners across the UK and they should be ashamed of the numbers that illustrate the need for the campaign by Age Scotland, which is an initiative I wholeheartedly support as I know how significant this is for many of my constituents.”
Research by Independent Age has suggested there are 123,000 eligible older households in Scotland which are not claiming Pension Credit. This equates to £332 million of support left unclaimed.
Ms Adam continued: “If you're a pensioner, there is help available to you to boost your state pension.
"This comes in the form of Pension Credit and is a safety net for many. Pension Credit is awarded to you based on your earnings – known as a means-tested benefit – and tops up your basic state pension for those in, or close to, poverty.
"It is a travesty that Westminster has not done more to ensure that those entitled to this top up payment, actually apply for it and receive it, when it is their right and could make such a massive difference.”
Pension Credit is made up of two parts, called guarantee credit and savings credit. Across the UK, around four million people are entitled to pension credit but a huge number do not apply.
The SNP MSP added: “At a local level that includes parts of Moray as well as Aberdeenshire, date indicates that caseload quarterly figures for Pension Credit as of November last year were at 1916 households, but the true figure for eligible pensioners will be considerably higher as that may reflect only 60 per cent of those eligible.
"Moreover, in a post-pandemic world, we now have some additional data from our information and advice services in which indicate that poverty in relation to those of pension age has undoubtedly increased, especially when you factor in an increase in fuel poverty.”
Age Scotland has revealed that there are 150,000 pensioners in Scotland living in poverty - with tens of thousands more on the cusp of it. However, many older people don't claim the financial support they're entitled to.
Ms Adam stated:
“Like all forms of poverty and the statistics around it, there are a variety of reasons why people do not apply and receive the welfare support they are entitled to. Part of this relates to a lack of information but crucially, a major factor is that many people suffer from the stigma surrounding social security. Other issues such as digital isolation are applicable. That is why I will do all I can to support pensioners to check in to see if they may be entitled to ‘cash out’.
“I urge pensioners in Banffshire and Buchan Coast to seek help in applying for what they deserve following a lifetime of entitlement. If people in families and households think their older members may not be receiving these payments, they too can have a role to play in discussing this with their loved ones, and then contacting the appropriate people that can help them at a time when they may need it most.
“My office are happy to signpost people to the relevant organisations if people would like to get in touch with me regarding this.”
The office of Karen Adam MSP can be contacted to help and signpost constituents via email: Karen.Adam.MSP@Parliament.scot
Age Scotland's Helpline number is 0800 12 44 222 with lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm.