Hundreds of pensioners across Burnley and Padiham are facing financial hardship and poverty because they are too proud to claim benefits they are entitled to.
The Citizens’ Advice Bureau has branded the problem a “modern day scandal” as money that could help the elderly to pay for food and bills is going unclaimed and Attendance Allowance, given to people over 65 in poor health, is “shockingly under used”.
This week the Bureau launched a “Make Your Claim” campaign to get more people to come forward for help without feeling shame or embarrassment or the stigma that can often to be attached to claiming any benefit.
Lynda Clegg, manager of Burnley and Pendle CAB, told the Express: “The scale of the under use of funding is massive. Life is hard enough for those above working age without missing this support and we do not want people to suffer unnecessarily.
“Nobody wins when these entitlements are not paid and we want people to have enough money to enjoy life, worry less about bills and receive additional financial support for the good of their health, their families and the communities where they will probably be spending the extra money.”
Statistics nationally show a third of people entitled to it do not request any support from Pension Credit and 40% of pensioners do not ask for help with Council Tax.
The Government says a single person aged over 62 by April 5th should not be living on less than £145.40 and for couples the amount is £220.05 a week.
A payment called Pension Credit tops it up but it is believed half the people entitled to this money in Lancashire do not claim it. Council Tax Support cash is also available for those struggling to pay.
Katy Marshall, who is co-ordinating the Make Your Claim campaign, said: “Since launching the campaign in the Ribble Valley we have received 15 phone calls from people inquiring about what they may be entitled to.
“We are very pleased with this response. Even though our campaign is aimed at those over 65 we are setting up a Facebook page so younger relatives and friends can encourage those we are targeting to find out what they are entitled to.
“We are here to help with information, advice and also filling in forms that many older people are daunted by.
“The help is available and it is just a phone call away.”
Anyone who would like more information on your benefits entitlement is asked to ring the CAB on 01282 450535 and ask for Hannah.