'Check eligibility' DWP urges Britons to see if they can get over £100 off energy bill

Guy Opperman, Secretary of State for Pensions and Financial Inclusion at the Department for Work and Pensions has urged Britain’s pensioners to check whether they are eligible for additional income under Pension Credit, as hundreds of thousands of people are still currently missing out. Pension Credit recipients would also be eligible for the Warm Home Discount, making their heating costs cheaper during winter.

Mr Opperman said that roughly 1.5 million British pensioners do take advantage of the extra help afforded by Pension Credit, which tops up to their retirement incomes and offers avenues to collect various other forms of financial support, such as a free TV licence and housing support.

However, he said that there are still hundreds of thousands of pensioners who could be eligible for Pension Credit but are not claiming it. Mr Opperman said that these people are “missing out on this extra boost”, which last year was worth around £64 a week on average.

Because of these issues, the Department for Work and Pensions has teamed up with Age UK and the BBC as they continue to attempt to raise awareness of Pension Credit and help people understand whether they are eligible, what benefits they could access as a result, and how to apply.

Mr Opperman reminded Britons that they can use the Department for Work and Pension’s free online Pension Credit calculator to check whether they are eligible, and also receive an estimate of what they might be entitled to.

READ MORE: State Pension age reduced to 63! What you’d get if you retired early in new plan

© GETTY pension credit warm home discount

He added that claims can be easily made online, and even people who are not sure whether they are eligible should apply, saying “I strongly urge you to make a claim.”

The support given to pensioners could be worth “hundreds, or even thousands of pounds”, according to Mr Opperman, who says that even by successfully claiming a small amount of Pension Credit, one could be entitled to help with their council tax as well as NHS dental treatment.

He also called on the relatives of potential claimants to help their family members access the benefits they need. He said: “Please, if you have a relative or are caring for someone help them make a claim. We don’t want your mum or dad to miss out.”

Mr Opperman reiterated that the application process “couldn’t be more straightforward” as he encouraged Britons to “take just a few minutes today to check your eligibility” if one feels that there is any chance they are entitled to Pension Credit.

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Pension Credit is a benefit for people over state pension age on lower incomes, which helps eligible pensioners cope with the cost of living by supplementing their income. There are two parts to Pension Credit; Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit, and each element provides a different level of support to successful claimants.

Guarantee Credit brings single claimants’ weekly income up to a guaranteed level of £177.10, who would therefore pick up a monthly income of £708.40 during a standard four-week month, which would mean an income of £9,209.20 for a year.

This is slightly different for married pensioners or those in a civil partnership, who would see their income topped up to £270.30 each week. This would mean a couple would receive a total of £1,081.20 per month and £14,055.60 each year.

Savings Credit on the other hand provides a different amount of support, for people who have made some provision towards their retirement via savings, or a pension other than the basic state pension.

© Express what is state pension

This could allow single pensioners to receive up to an extra £14.04 per week, which would add £56.16 to their monthly income and £730.08 each year. Couples may receive an extra £15.71 per week, meaning £62.84 more each month and £816.92 a year. Note that these figures are for the 2021/22 tax year.

People who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit are also eligible for the Warm Home Discount, which makes heating one’s home in the cold winter months more affordable. Pensioners could get £140 off their electricity bill for the winter under the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which opens on October 18 2021.

The one-off discount against electricity bills can be claimed between October and March, but it may be possible to get the discount on a gas bill instead, if one’s provider supplied them with gas as well as electricity.

People using a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter can also apply, and one’s electricity supplier can direct people as to how they will get the discount if they are eligible, which could be in the form of a voucher for example.

© GETTY pension credit warm home discount

People who are disabled, have caring responsibilities or are responsible for paying certain housing costs, such as mortgage interest payments may also be eligible for a higher level of Pension Credit.

As Mr Opperman pointed out, one of the potential benefits of applying for Pension Credit is that claimants over the age of 75 can receive a free TV Licence, which would save them £159 each year.

Applicants can put in their Pension Credit claim up to four months before they want to start receiving the benefit and therefore avoiding waiting for their first payment. Pensioners can claim any time after they reach state pension age. However, claims can only be backdated for up to three months.

However, not everyone will be eligible for both parts of Pension Credit, as it depends on when reaches retirement age. Those who reached state pension age before April 6 2016 qualify for the Savings Credit element of Pension Credit, whereas people who reached state pension age on or after April 6 2016 are eligible for the Guarantee Credit part.

It could be worth claiming Pension Credit even if applicants discover that they are only eligible for a small amount, as it could help them to receive additional benefits such have been outlined by Mr Opperman, as well as the obvious benefit of providing extra income.

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