Kirsty Williams AM is encouraging older people in Brecon and Radnorshire to consider whether they’re missing out on financial support, highlighting the fact that around 1.3million people in Great Britain aren’t claiming pension credit when they’re entitled to.
The benefit has added significance following last week’s announcement that the free TV licence for people over 75 is to be scrapped, with only those receiving pension credit entitled to it.
Pension credit tops up weekly income to a guaranteed level of £167.25 for single people and £255.25 for couples. The Department for Work and Pensions estimate that around 1.3million families entitled to pension credit did not claim it, with an average of around £2,500 unclaimed per year for each family.
Pension credit and changes to the TV licence are particularly relevant in Brecon and Radnorshire. 26.6% of people in Brecon and Radnorshire are 65 and over, against a Wales-wide average of 19.9%. Around 5000 people in Brecon and Radnorshire are set to lose out from the new system for TV licences.
Kirsty discussed pension credit and changes to the TV licence with representatives from BBC Wales at an event in the National Assembly for Wales on 18th June 2019.
Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for Brecon and Radnorshire, said:
“Pension credit can be a vital source of support for older people. As well as providing income support it acts as a passport to other benefits, which from June 2020 will include the free TV licence for people over 75.
“However, uptake of pension credit remains extremely low. It’s estimated that around 1.3million people in Great Britain are missing out, which would likely mean well over 1000 people in Brecon and Radnorshire.
“The changes to the free TV licence must act as a catalyst to ensure more people get the support they’re entitled to. I hope people will consider their own circumstances, and those of their family and friends, and build awareness of the importance of claiming pension credit.”
Kirsty has also highlighted the effects of recent changes for mixed-age couples, where changes to eligibility have meant households with one person above state pension age and one person below must claim universal credit instead of pension credit. The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has warned this could leave families nearly £600 a month worse off. Now, changes to the free TV licence means some households who would have been entitled to a free licence will have to pay under the new system, due to being moved off pension credit.
“The changes around the free TV licence will be another blow to some households who have already been forced into claiming universal credit instead of pension credit. This change was already leaving many couples hundreds of pounds a month worse off, and now some will have to find the cash for a TV licence when they would have received it for free.
“The Conservative Government seems determined to make life as difficult as possible for our pensioners. A failure to support older people will have serious consequences here in Brecon and Radnorshire.”
Information about pension credit including details of how to claim can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit
Pension credit is a means-tested benefit for older people, providing financial support for those on lower incomes. There are two elements:
Guarantee credit – this tops up a weekly income to a minimum level, providing up to £167.25 for single people and up to £255.25 for couples.
Savings credit – this is some extra money for those with savings or a higher weekly income, providing £13.72 for single people and £15.35 for couples.
As well as providing income support, pension credit also gives eligibility to other benefits, including free NHS dental treatment and Cold Weather Payments. From June 2020 this will include a free TV licence.