Who are Turn2us?
Turn2us is a national charity helping people in financial hardship gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other support services – online, by phone and face to face through our partner organisations.
One of our key target groups is older people. One in six pensioners in the UK live in poverty - around 1.6 million. Yet help is often available through benefits and charitable grants.
There are several benefits available to older people including Pension Credit and Housing Benefit (HB England, Scotland, Wales and HB Northern Ireland). Despite this, billions’ worth of these two benefits goes unclaimed by older people.
Carers may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance, a benefit for people who are caring at least 35 hours a week for someone who gets certain benefits, including Attendance Allowance.
Claiming some benefits, including Pension Credit, can automatically entitle you to other benefits or higher amounts in some that you may be claiming’ (known as ‘passported benefits’).
You can use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement and make sure you are claiming all that is available to you.
If you are in a mixed age couple where one of you is below Pension age, you will not be able to claim Pension Credit, unless you qualified before 15 May 2019, and get your claim in before 13 August 2019. A mixed aged couple who doesn't qualify for Pension Credit could claim Universal Credit instead. However, this is a complex area, so it may be worth seeking advice on your options if you are soon to become a mixed aged couple.
The Turn2us Connect service
Applying for benefits is a stressful process for many people, with many forms to fill in. We have recently developed Turn2us Connect, a text message based app, funded by Comic Relief. People applying for welfare benefits are matched to a trained Turn2us volunteer, who can help them through the benefits application process using this tool.
Awareness of the help that may be available from charitable funds is very low.
Our research showed that 90% of people did not know that help from a charitable grant might be possible.
Charitable funds give grants to people in financial need who meet their qualifying rules (eligibility criteria). Most of them assist people experiencing financial hardship who have something in common, such as:
- Where they live
- Working or having worked in particular occupations or industries
- Health conditions
Each charitable fund is very individual in terms of who it helps, the support it gives and how it works. Although financial help is usually given through grants, that don’t have to be paid back, other support is sometimes available, such as counselling, debt advice, housing advice/services or care homes.
You can use the Turn2us Grants Search to find charitable funds, based on your background, circumstances and needs.
Heating costs are a common worry for older people. Turn2us has information about energy schemes, grants for energy efficiency and help that may be available through local home improvement agencies. Many charitable funds also help with heating costs.
People who have deferred their State Pension often don’t realise that they may still be entitled to Winter Fuel Payments.
Financial Hardship Project (FHP)
This project, funded by the Oak Foundation, aims to improve the financial wellbeing and self sufficiency of people living in financial hardship across the UK.
One of the objectives of the project is to target people without internet access or who don’t have the ability, confidence or skills to use our website. Targeted marketing will highlight the support available from our helpline to hard reach groups, including older people, people with disabilities, those living in areas of high deprivation and rural areas with unreliable internet reception.
Bridget McCall is an Information Specialist at Turn2us
Have you been affected by any of these issues?
If you have been affected by any of the issues described in this blog, or simply need someone to reach out to, you can call the Turn2us free helpline on 0808 802 2000, Monday to Fridays (except bank holidays) between 9 am and 5.30 pm You can also visit their website www.turn2us.org.uk for more information.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Independent Age