Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

OAPs Miss Out

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

OAPs Miss Out

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Young

Hard-up North East pensioners who are missing out on benefits totalling pounds 33 million were urged today to seek help.

Even though the region has some of the worst pockets of pensioner poverty in the country, thousands are failing to claim benefits to which they are entitled.

According to new research, about 30,000 pensioners in the region who qualify for help under the Government's minimum income guarantee are missing out.

The scale of the problem has shocked campaigners who are urging pensioners to claim their rights.

John Berry, secretary of the North East Pensioners' Association, said its aim is to get rid of means-tested benefits and increase the basic pension.

In the meantime, though, he urged elderly people to claim their entitlements.

"A lot of people are living in poverty," he said. "To them, an extra pounds 5 a week would make the world of difference because their budget is so tight. Many can't even afford the basics. I've seen people in shops wondering whether they should buy a bottle of milk or a newspaper because they can't afford both."

The association plans a major campaign in the autumn in support of higher pensions and an end to means-testing.

Under the minimum income guarantee, most single people over 60 who receive less than pounds 102.10 a week, or couples less than pounds 155.80, are entitled to extra money.

People with savings of more than pounds 6,000 may get less and, above pounds 12,000, nothing. But such people may be eligible for help in October when the rules change.

A recent study highlighted the North East as one the worst in the country for deprivation among the over 75s.

Today's figures come from the British Gas Help the Aged Partnership which is calling on the Government to set new benefits take-up targets to ensure that within three years at least 90 per cent of pensioners are getting their benefits. …

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