McCarthy & Stone helps Assisted Living customers access £2m of unclaimed benefits in just 18 months

08 March 2016

Company makes call for benefits system to be made clearer as £3.5 billion in pension credits and housing benefits are left unclaimed by older people each year

The UK’s leading retirement housebuilder, McCarthy & Stone, is helping to combat the issue of unclaimed benefits in the older generation, claiming over £2 million over the last 18 months for its Assisted Living homeowners through its dedicated Entitlements Advice Service.  The company provides a range of housing types for people at different stages in retirement, and those who have benefited from this service live predominately in its Assisted Living developments, which typically support people in their 80s who are able to live independently but require some additional care and support in later life. 

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that over £3.5 billion in pension credits and housing benefits is left unclaimed by pensioners*. McCarthy & Stone is appealing to the Government to make accessing the system simpler and for greater transparency of benefits available to the older generation.  

McCarthy & Stone’s Entitlements Advice Service has helped claim over £3.6 million in the last five years for prospective customers and current homeowners. Examples include pension credits, housing support, Attendance Allowance, and additional care or Council Tax reduction, depending on the claimants’ circumstances. The service has recovered a total of over £2 million of previously unclaimed benefits in the last 18 months alone – the highest figure since the service began in 2011 –and the rate of claims is increasing further.

Bembridge retirement residents

The retirement housebuilder advises that pensioners at any age and situation should carry out a full benefits check to ensure that they are receiving the help they are entitled to, to help with the cost of their home and bills.

Colin Cuthbert, Senior Benefits Advisor at McCarthy and Stone, comments: “The figures from the DWP show that those in later life are missing out on billions of pounds worth of benefits, which for each individual can make a huge difference to help keep them financially secure in their retirement years. Many of our homeowners fail to claim the benefits that they might be entitled to as they are unaware of the qualifying criteria or how to make the necessary claim. The complicated nature of the application forms are often a barrier to people making a legitimate claim. Many people wrongly believe that if they have savings that they are not entitled to any benefits. That’s why we are particularly proud to be helping our Assisted Living customers receive what they are entitled to – which has amounted to over £3.6 million over the last five years."

Proposed changes to the Attendance Allowance benefit by the Government to transfer the budget and responsibility to local councils further threatens to complicate the UK benefits system. Colin adds: “We believe current plans to devolve Attendance Allowance to local councils in England will present a further obstacle to the older population claiming their rightful benefits. The Attendance Allowance is an important source of support for older people with care needs to be able to retain their independence for longer. Handing local authorities more flexibility over their own systems of support threatens to create a lottery of support for older people and carers.”

The Entitlements Advice Service from McCarthy & Stone is a free and confidential service provided to existing and prospective homeowners and involves a full benefits check including state pension, pension credit, Attendance Allowance, disability, council tax, health, winter fuel, TV licence and warm home discount scheme. To cope with the demand, and to better support even more homeowners or those looking to move to a McCarthy & Stone development, the Entitlements Advice Service team has doubled in size since 2011, and is continuing to expand.

Alongside delivering a high quality product, customer service represents one of the fundamental principles of McCarthy & Stone’s business, ensuring homeowners have access to all the support and assistance they need to live comfortably and enjoy their retirement to the full.

Colin concludes: “The benefits support that we can help people tap into really does make a huge difference, and in some cases, can be the difference between a homeowner being able to live comfortably or not. We aim to enable older people to live a good quality of life, independently, and for as long as possible. Our Entitlements Advice Service supports a wide range of activity from full benefits checks, right down to non-means-tested support such as free NHS prescriptions and sight tests. Although these costs may seem small on their own, it all adds up.”

Faulkner retirement resident

At the heart of McCarthy & Stone’s business model is its desire to provide a viable, sustainable alternative for the ageing population, centred on purpose-built, high-quality developments in   central locations which are close to amenities with level access and good public transport links.

For further information regarding McCarthy and Stone’s Entitlements Advice Service please visit www.mccarthyandstone.co.uk/helping-you-move/free-benefits-advice

Colin Cuthbert holds the position of Senior Benefits Advisor at McCarthy and Stone, and is an authority in benefit and pension entitlements. Formerly a financial advisor for the Citizens Advice Bureau for 15 years, he specialised in Money Advice and Welfare Benefits Advice. Colin joined the McCarthy and Stone Group in 2011, and currently leads the company’s dedicated Entitlements Advice Service.

Retirement Benefits

 

Means Tested Benefits

Non Means Tested Benefits

Over 60s

Guaranteed Pension Credit and / or Savings Pension Credit

Winter Fuel Payment

If in receipt of Pension Credit for winter 2015 to 2016, you could get £140 off your electricity bill through the Warm Home Discount scheme

Personal Independence Payments/Disability Allowance (under 65 when first claimed)

 

Cold Weather Payment

Single Occupant Council Tax

Free Bus Pass  

Free Prescriptions and Eye-Tests

Over 65s

 

Attendance Allowance

Over 75s

 

Free TV Licence

*DWP figures taken from the following report: Income-related benefits: Estimates of take-up in 2013/14

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