Thousands of Portsmouth pensioners are not claiming a free TV licence, charity claims

THOUSANDS of pensioners in and around Portsmouth are eligible for free TV licences, but are not claiming them.

Friday, 21st August 2020, 11:27 am

Data analysed by national charity Turn2us has revealed that an estimated 1,716 pensioners in the city are not claiming their pension credit – which also entitles them to a free TV licence.

The free TV licence for over-75s was scrapped earlier this year, to widespread criticism, and was replaced on August 1 with a concessionary system.

Across Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham and Havant, it is estimated that 4,286 people over the age of 75 are not claiming their entitled pension credit.

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Steve Bonner from the Pompey Pensioners Association, right, was among those protesting outside the BBC office in Gunwharf Quays in 2019 over the abolition of free TV licences for all over-75s Picture: Sarah Standing (210619-1378)

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Steve Bonner, vice-chairman of the Pompey Pensioners association, believes the reasons for this are twofold.

He said: ‘I think many of the people who need to claim this are perhaps too proud to do so.

‘There is a lot of information out there and we have been working with Age UK to make sure everyone is aware of their eligibility, but some just don’t want to do it.

‘But claiming pension credit can also be a bit of a bind if you don’t know your way around paperwork, so that could put people off as well.’

Mr Bonner added that if TV licence claims are as complex as pension credit, there could be thousands more people who aren’t claiming it.

Birmingham has the highest number of unclaimed entitlements, with 13,006.

Before the licence changes, there were 4.6m free TV licences across the UK.

Minister for pensions and financial inclusion, Guy Opperman, said: ‘Currently, 1.5m older people across Great Britain receive extra financial help through pension credit. But there are still a significant number of older people who might be missing out.

‘We’re keen to get the message out there that everyone should claim the benefits they’re entitled to and I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible for pension credit to check.’

Anna Stevenson, welfare benefit expert at Turn2us, added: ‘Pension credit is a lifeline for older people stuck on low incomes in retirement, and now it is the only route to getting a free TV licence.

‘So it is more important, now than ever, to claim it.’

The government’s pension credit team is on 0800 99 1234.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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