Pensioners urged to claim benefits to save free TV licence

Pensioners are being urged to overcome the stigma of claiming benefits to bring more money into Sheffield.

Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 11:11 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 3:47 pm
Sheffield Town Hall

The BBC is planning to stop free TV licences for over 75s unless they get Pension Credit but Sheffield Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) says it’s precisely that age group who are reluctant to claim benefits.

From June 2020, if over 75s are not on Pension Credit, they will pay £154.50 a year to watch television.

Chris Walker, office manager of Spital Hill CAB, told a council meeting that pensioners would not only boost their own finances but bring more Government money into Sheffield if they claimed benefits.

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“Pension Credit is means tested and takes into account people’s savings and income,” he said.

“But the pension age has been creeping forward so fewer and fewer people are eligible for Pension Credit and there has been a reduction in the number of people who claim it. More and more elderly people find themselves out of scope.

“There’s quite a large proportion of people who don’t claim it and that equates to £3 billion a year nationally.

“The Government would lose far more money than the subsidised licences if all these people actually claimed Pension Credit. It’s a very strange situation.”

Mr Walker said it was unclear why people didn’t claim the benefit.

“Pension Credit is a cliff edge and if you are 10p over the threshold, you lose it and you lose your free TV licence as well as other benefits.

“With Universal Credit, the cliff edge has been taken away but there’s a more pernicious regime behind it.

“Older people are not taking up this benefit and the older the person, the more acute the problem. Over 75s are less keen to apply and the stigma goes higher with age.

“Research why people are not claiming is not clear and we can only encourage the number of people who are eligible.

“If the council did some work with welfare benefits you could quadruple the amount of money brought into the city.”

Sheffield CAB can help people claim and can be called on 03444 113 111.