Provided by Mae Stewart, Editor UNISON Retired members Newsletter,
Dundee, Perth and Angus. Please note that this is not definitive
information about benefits but will provide a signpost as to where
to get up to date information. Please check the sources first.
UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that
may be outdated or inaccurate.
Issue 36 April 2011
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Members Information - 'Misinformation' Health & Social
I would like to thank one of our members who wrote pointing
out that in the last report information on the 'New health
& Social Bill Means' applied only to England; and not to Scotland
(as is the case in some instances); and they were concerned
therefore that some information could be misleading and could
cause concern to some of our membership.
The Bill only applies to England and partly to Wales
although the part affecting arrangements between the NHS Commissioning
Board will affect Scotland - UNISON opposes the Bill:
see info here and UNISON's
Firstly, may I thank our member for highlighting this discrepancy?
I always attempt to report relevant and correct information,
which I feel would be of use to the membership, and apologise
if this is not always the case.
Could I therefore ask all members who do read any information,
at any given time; which they feel may be incorrect or be
of concern to themselves; to please double check by accessing
the website at: www.ageuk.org
this would ensure that any inconsistencies that may have slipped
through my fingers, would be picked up by the individual themselves.
Or, if you prefer, telephone Age UK Advice: 0800 169 6565
where someone there will offer any advice on which areas will
be effected with any particular set of circumstances. Once
again my thanks to the member who brought this to my attention.
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If you are unable to work full-time because you are caring
for someone with a disability or health problem‚ you might
be able to claim Carer's Allowance. If you are under pension
age‚ you will also get National Insurance credits each week
towards your pension.
Can I claim it?
You need to be caring for someone who is receiving the higher
or middle rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
or any rate of Attendance Allowance. This person could be
a family member (like your spouse or a parent) or a friend.
You must spend at least 35 hours a week
caring for that person. It doesn't matter if you don't live
You must not be in full-time education.
You must earn no more than £100 a week (after
the deduction of allowable expenses such as Income Tax).
It may not be paid if you are receiving a State Pension or
certain other benefits - however‚ it may be a good idea to
apply anyway because you could get extra help with Pension
Credit and/or Council Tax/Housing Benefit instead.
Carer's Allowance can sometimes continue in payment for short
periods if the person you care for dies or if you have a break
Up to a third of all pensioners are entitled to
Pension Credit. Yet about a third of those eligible (up to 1.6
million older people) are not claiming it. If you're one of them‚
you could be missing out on hundreds or even thousands of pounds
There are two parts of Pension Credit - you may
be eligible to receive one or both of them.
Guarantee Credit is designed to make sure
that people over the minimum state pension age (rising from 60
to 65 between 2010 and 2020) have a guaranteed level of income.
It is worked out by comparing your income with the amount the
Government thinks you need to live on. This amount is known as
the standard minimum guarantee.
Savings Credit is paid to people aged 65
and over‚ who have made some retirement provision in addition
to their basic State Pension.
Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit
and so your income and savings are taken into account when it
is worked out. Pension Credit includes help towards mortgage payments
and service charges for home owners, and extra money for people
who receive Carers Allowance or disability benefits. You can get
a claim form by phoning the Pension Credit Line on 0800 991 234
or by visiting the direct.gov website (see 'Useful websites').
The Social Fund
The Social Fund provides financial help to people
who receive certain benefits (including Pension Credit) and need
help with extra expenses. If you are on a low income‚ it is difficult
to save for emergency expenses such as funeral costs or furniture
for a new home.
There are different types of payments you can get
from the Social Fund with different qualifying conditions. There
are also some variations throughout the country and so it would
be a good idea to get advice before you make an application.
Budgeting loans are to help spread the cost
of expensive essential items. They are between £100 and £1,500
and have to be repaid from your weekly benefits.
Crisis loans are to help you if you need
help because of an emergency or a disaster, such as a fire or
flood. You do not have to receive any benefits to apply, but they
must be paid back.
Funeral Payments are to help with the basic
costs of a funeral if you are responsible for paying for one.
Cold Weather payments are to help with extra
heating costs during periods of very cold weather.
Winter Fuel payments are paid to most pensioner
households to help with the cost of fuel.
Challenging Benefit Decisions
It is usually possible to challenge a benefit decision
if you think it's wrong. The process may be easier than you think
and many are successful. However, it's important to act quickly,
because there are deadlines for submitting appeals. It often helps
to get expert help or advice with an appeal.
To find out more about what happens after an application
for a welfare benefit is submitted, the decisions involved, how
to challenge negative decisions, Social Fund reviews and making
complaints, you can download a factsheet at: www.ugeuk.org
Have You Paid the Wrong Tax?
HMRC (formerly the Inland Revenue) is currently
sending out letters to nearly 6 million people who have paid the
wrong amount of tax since 2008. Over the past 2 years, nearly
£2bn has been underpaid, with around 1.4m taxpayers owing an average
of £1,400 each.
this ageuk link for full details