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UK government benefits go above and beyond the State Pension.
UK benefits – a total of £3.5bn annually – go unclaimed by older people each year. To be clear, these added benefits are above and beyond your normal state pension amount.
Don’t assume you are not entitled to these extra UK benefits. You may be surprised at what is already yours. After all, it’s certainly worth your time to check.
The extra benefits come in different forms, including additional monthly payments, tax relief, and discounts.
Your circumstances and finances can change, as do government policies. For this reason, it’s advisable to file a claim each year. You might now be eligible for a UK benefit you weren’t before.
The figures quoted in this article are accurate for England, from April 2023 to March 2024.
There are two parts to the Pension Credit: Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit. Your age and your partner’s age affect your eligibility, as does the amount you’ve saved.
The Guarantee Credit ‘tops off’ your weekly State Pension amount to a minimum level. To be eligible, your weekly income must be below £201.05 for singles and £306.85 for couples. However, you may still be eligible for other UK benefits even if your income is greater than these amounts.
The Savings Credit is for those who have made the effort to save for their retirement. Even if your income is higher than the minimum pension level (see above) you could be eligible.
The Savings Credit generates an additional £15.94 per week for singles or £17.84 per week for couples.
Once you receive the Pension Credit, you may also be eligible for a number of additional UK benefits, like a free TV license or discounted eyeglasses. Other major benefits are summarized below.
CUT HOUSEHOLD COSTS
The UK government has a series of benefits intended to help with housing, heating, and property taxes.
The Housing Benefit provides help with rent and some service charges and is administered by your local authorities.
To be eligible for the Housing Benefit, you must:
- Pay rent.
- Be on a low income or claiming benefits.
- Have savings of less than £16,000.
- Be over the State Pension age.
If you get the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit (see above) your income and savings aren’t taken into account. Consequently, you may get your rent paid in full by the Housing Benefit.
If you or your partner are under State Pension age and aren’t already claiming the Housing Benefit, you can claim Universal Credit to help pay your rent instead.
If you own your home, you won’t be eligible for the Housing Benefit. Instead, you could get Support for Mortgage Interest to help you pay for your mortgage interest as part of Pension Credit instead.
Reduced Council Tax
Council Tax is a property-based tax paid to local authorities. Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to discounts or exemptions on your Council Tax.
Based on your home’s value, it is assigned to one of the tax ‘bands’. There are eight Council Tax bands, ranging from A to H. A is the lowest band with the lowest charges, while H demands the highest charges.
You may be eligible for a discounted Council Tax if:
You’re single and live alone. Tax is calculated on two-person occupancy. So, if you’re alone, you may get a 25% discount, regardless of income.
You live with someone under 18 or a student. These people will be removed from the Council Tax calculations.
You’re a carer. Carers who look after someone in the household for at least 35 hours per week and who meet additional criteria may be excluded from the tax. This exemption does not apply if the person receiving care is the spouse or child of the carer.
Your home has decreased in value. There are many reasons why your home may become less valuable. For instance, having to add handicap ramps or there’s a new highway close by. You may be able to move the value to a lower tax band.
You change the way you pay. Currently, the tax bill is split over 10 months. You may be able to spread it over 12 months. On the other hand, if you can pay the entire annual bill at once, you may get a discount.
You could be exempt. If you move to a care home or are in hospital permanently, you’ll pay no Council Tax. In fact, having disabilities, dementia, or other factors can eliminate the Council Tax.
Winter Fuel payment
If you were born before 26 September 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 with this UK benefit to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a Winter Fuel Payment.
The amount you get includes a ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’. This is between £150 and £300. You’ll get this extra amount in winter 2023 – 2024. This is in addition to any other Cost of Living Payments you get with your UK benefits or tax credits.
Most people get the Winter Fuel Payment automatically if they’re eligible.
Cold weather payment
The 2023 – 2024 scheme will start on 1 November 2023. You’ll be able to check if your area is due a payment in November 2023.
You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below, over seven consecutive days.
The benefit amount is £25 for each 7-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.
Warm Home Discount
You could get £150 off your electricity bill for winter 2023 – 2024 under the Warm Home Discount scheme.
This payment is a one-off discount on your electricity bill.
You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead of your electricity bill if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity and you’re eligible. The discount will not affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.
Personal Independence Payment
The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) can help with extra living costs if you have both:
- A long-term physical or mental health condition or disability, and
- Difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around because of your condition.
You can get PIP even if you’re working, have savings, or are getting other benefits.
There are two parts to PIP:
- Daily living part – if you need help with everyday tasks.
- Mobility part – if you need help getting around.
Whether you get one or both parts of this UK benefit depends on how difficult you find everyday tasks and getting around.
Daily living part
You might get the daily living part of PIP if you need help with:
- Eating, drinking or preparing food.
- Washing, bathing and using the toilet.
- Dressing and undressing.
- Reading and communicating.
- Managing your medicines or treatments.
- Making decisions about money.
- Socialising and being around other people.
You might get the mobility part of PIP if you need help with:
- Working out a route and following it.
- Physically moving around.
- Leaving your home.
You do not have to have a physical disability to get the mobility part. For instance, you might also be eligible for this UK benefit if you have difficulty getting around because of a cognitive or mental health condition, like anxiety.
Many people think they can’t claim the Attendance Allowance (AA) because they don’t have a carer or other support.
But importantly, it’s based on the help you need, not on any help you currently receive.
Attendance Allowance is a UK benefit that you might be able to claim if you need help with care or have an illness or disability.
- You have any type of disability or physical or mental illness, including sight or hearing impairments and conditions such as dementia.
- You need help with personal care, such as getting washed or dressed, or supervision to keep you safe during the day or night.
- You have needed help for at least six months. But if you’re terminally ill you can make a claim immediately.
There are two different weekly rates, and the amount you get depends on how much help you need.
The lower rate, £68.10, is for those needing help either during the day or night. The higher rate, £101.75, is paid when help is needed round the clock.
The Attendance Allowance benefit is not counted as part of your income during your Pension Credit eligibility review.
The Carer’s Allowance is the for those who look after someone with a disability or health problem. If you’re eligible, the UK benefit is currently £76.75 per week.
You could qualify for the Carer’s Allowance if:
- You spend at least 35 hours per week caring for someone – whether or not you live with them.
- The person you look after receives the Attendance Allowance, or several other benefits, including the Disability Living Allowance, the Personal Independence Payment, the Armed Forces Independence Payment, or the Constant Attendance Allowance.
- You’re not earning more than £139 a week (after tax and expenses) or are in full-time education.
Unfortunately, you are not eligible for the Carer’s Allowance if your State Pension is more than £76.75 a week. But making a claim anyway can, in some cases, increase other means-tested benefits you get.
Notably, receiving the Carer’s Allowance can reduce certain benefits for the person you’re looking after.
In England, everyone aged 60 or over is eligible for free National Health Service (NHS) prescriptions and free NHS sight tests.
As a result of receiving the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit (see above), you automatically qualify for help towards additional NHS health costs, including:
- Free NHS dental treatment
- Wigs and fabric supports
- Help with travel costs to receive NHS treatment if your doctor or dentist refers you to a specialist or you need to see a consultant
- A voucher towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses.
Finally, if you find yourself with no money, or facing a bill you don’t have the means to pay, there are ways your government can help:
A Budgeting Loan might be available if you receive Pension Credit and you need to pay for an essential item. Of course, the loan must be repaid out of weekly benefits.
A Short-Term Advance can help to tide you over between claiming a benefit and receiving it. You’ll usually need to repay it over a set period out of your benefits.
You might be able to get assistance from your local council if you’re affected by an emergency or disaster, such as a flood or fire or another emergency. This assistance might not be financial. For example, it can include goods, services, or vouchers instead.
Funeral Expenses Payments can help you cover the cost of a funeral, such as burial or cremation and the funeral director’s fees.
The added UK benefits described here are just an overview. Indeed, being aware that there may be help is all you need to learn more and file a claim.
Find support through the free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. Additionally, there are specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.
Aisa International, s.r.o. is a wealth management firm with an award-winning team who provides investment advice, financial planning, and asset management for U.S., U.K., and E.U. expatriate citizens residing abroad. Holding all current regulatory licenses, including the FCA license in the UK and the Investment Licence in the European Union, Aisa International is uniquely qualified to provide personal financial advice for U.K. pensioners living outside of the U.K. Headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic, Aisa International serves its global clients where they reside through its OpesFidelio network of highly-qualified advisors. For more information, please visit www.asiainternational.cz.
The views expressed in this article are not to be construed as personal advice. Therefore, you should contact a qualified, and ideally, regulated adviser in order to obtain up-to-date personal advice with regard to your own personal circumstances. Consequently, if you do not, then you are acting under your own authority and deemed “execution only”. The author does not accept any liability for people acting without personalised advice, who base a decision on views expressed in this generic article. Importantly, where this article is dated then it is based on legislation as of the date. Legislation changes but articles are rarely updated, although sometimes a new article is written; so, please check for later articles or changes in legislation on official government websites, as this article should not be relied on in isolation.
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