We must remove the stigma from benefits

Portsmouth delivers yet again with the GSR

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It’s fair to say that winter is well and truly making itself felt.

Cold nights and even a touch of frost in the morning means that central heating is being turned on in homes across the area.

And, of course, as we all know from the headlines, power is not cheap.

We’ve all read the stories in previous years about lives being lost because of people having to chose between heating their homes and eating.

That’s why we should all sit up and take notice of our report on page 12.

It contains the shocking revelation that 3,800 pensioners are thought to be living in poverty in Portsmouth.

That’s an extraordinary number and one that we are worried about.

And the reason?

Independent Age, the charity which conducted the survey, says it’s down to pride.

People, often older single women, won’t claim the pensions credits to which they are entitled as they see – wrongly – that there is somehow a stigma attached to taking home benefits.

When, of course the opposite attitude should prevail.

Many, if not most of these pensioners will have spent a large part of their lives paying hard-earned money into the tax system.

What’s that huge national cashpot for if not a support to turn to when in need?

We agree with Victoria Richards from Independent Age, who says the credit ‘really can make a difference to those in later life’.

It could and it should.

So if you think you’re eligible, or believe someone in your family could be, make sure a claim is made.

The more people who receive what they can, the quicker the stigma will be removed and the sooner our older people will be out of poverty.