More older people in England, Scotland and Wales will receive targeted support and advice on how to cope with the cost-of-living crisis, thanks to a £1.5 million donation by Pension Insurance Corporation plc (‘PIC’) to older people’s charity Independent Age.
The donation from PIC, a specialist insurer of defined benefit pension schemes, will help expand Independent Age’s helpline. In recent weeks the helpline has experienced an increase in the number of callers from people facing tough decisions on how to manage their household budgets, struggling to heat their homes or afford groceries. £500,000 of the donation will allow Independent Age to create new roles for specialist staff to answer queries and provide advice to older callers in need of financial assistance.
Because of the additional funding, the Independent Age helpline will be able to support more people like Thabani. Thabani, 73, from South London retired from her nursing career due to ill-health and was working in commercials for extra income. Unfortunately this work stopped due to COVID-19. She feared she would lose her home.
Thabani said: “Before I got the help from Independent Age it was a desperate, desperate time. We had so many problems – where to get food from, how to pay the bills, gas and electric going up and paying council tax too. The house was very cold – we wore extra clothes and covered ourselves in blankets.
“I called and pleaded with our mortgage provider and negotiated what we could pay, but it was never enough. They were threatening to repossess our home. I was so scared.
“I heard about Independent Age in 2021. The people on the phone were so lovely, they listened to me, didn’t judge and understood as I explained why I couldn’t work. They helped me claim Pension Credit and Attendance Allowance which was a big relief. My prayers were answered.
“Independent Age made me feel like a normal person with a bright future ahead of me. They made me feel like I matter.”
The donation also match-funds Independent Age’s existing £1 million emergency cost of living grants fund, which was launched in September. With the donation from PIC, Independent Age will be building the capacity of 50 organisations across the UK to get more money into the pockets of older people to ensure they are not forced to choose between heating their home or eating a meal.
The urgency of the need for further support is demonstrated by YouGov polling commissioned by Independent Age, which shows that nearly half (48%) of people above the age of 65 in England could not afford a £50 per month increase in their cost of living.
Similarly, just under half (44%) of people above the age of 65 are anxious about their finances at the moment, driven by the rising energy bills and cost of grocery shopping among other everyday challenges. More older people are being pushed into poverty and are fearful of how to cope towards the end of this year, leading Independent Age to call for further aid.
Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Independent Age, said:
“At a time when those already impacted by the cost of living crisis face further rises in energy and food prices, these very welcome funds will allow us to help even more people in desperate need of support.
“Inflation and the cost-of-living crisis are clearly already having an effect as we are receiving increasingly distressing calls to our helpline from older people who don’t know how they will cope during the winter. A donation of this size will help us support so many more people.”
Tracy Blackwell, Chief Executive Officer at PIC, said:
“Independent Age’s research indicates that even before the cost of living crisis, life was already difficult for many older people struggling to make ends meet. 2.1 million older people in the UK were living in poverty at the beginning of 2022. Since 2012, pensioner poverty has increased by 5%, with older people making up a fifth of the poorest people in the population.
“Targeting effective help to where it is needed most will enable Independent Age to assist more lonely and worried pensioners seeking much needed guidance and support.”
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Notes to editor
About Independent Age
We offer regular friendly contact, a strong campaigning voice and free, impartial advice on the issues that matter to older people: care and support, money and benefits, health and mobility. A charity founded over 150 years ago, we are independent so older people can be too.
For more information, visit our website www.independentage.org.
Arrange to speak to one of our advisers for free and confidential advice and information. Freephone 0800 319 6789 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make a donation or find out more about how you can support the work of Independent Age and help older people stay independent, please visit independentage.org/support-us.
The purpose of PIC is to pay the pensions of its current and future policyholders. PIC provides secure retirement incomes through comprehensive risk management and excellence in asset and liability management, as well as exceptional customer service. At 30 June 2022, PIC had insured 293,400 pension scheme members and had £44.1 billion in financial investments, accumulated through the provision of tailored pension insurance buyouts and buy-ins to the trustees and sponsors of UK defined benefit pension schemes. To date, PIC has made total pension payments of almost £9 billion to its policyholders. Clients include FTSE 100 companies, multinationals and the public sector. PIC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority (FRN 454345). For further information please visit www.pensioncorporation.com