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A member of  Leeds Federated Housing Our Money Matters Team writes about support for older customers.

"The national older person’s charity, Independent Age, recently published a report highlighting that woman are more likely to struggle in retirement and this has only been exasperated by the cost-of-living crisis. One in three say they can’t afford a £25 increase in their expenses per month.

"We know Pension Credit take up is an ongoing issue. National figures suggest that approximately 2.5 million pensioners are entitled to receive pension credit to top up their retirement income. Yet we also know that two in five of those who qualify, aren’t claiming it.

"In addition to being a top up to regular pension, it also passports a claimant to automatically qualifying for the government’s £650 Cost of Living Payment; a Cold Weather Payment of £25, paid automatically when the average temperature is 0°C or below over seven consecutive days; £150 off electricity thorough the Warm Home Discount Scheme, free NHS dental treatment, help towards the cost of glasses and travel to hospital as well as help with council tax and rent.

"One of our customers is part of the generation of 'WASPI' women who had expected to retire at 60 years of age but was hit by the Government's delayed retirement age of 66 years. Ill health however forced her into an early retirement from work with only a minimal private pension to live on.

"She was struggling to manage on Universal Credit, regularly relying on family members for food and having fallen significantly behind with rent and council tax, she was referred to our Money Matters Team.

"We visited her at home and assisted with the current Universal Credit claim, increasing the payments and debt repayments were reduced. We helped her apply for Personal Independence Payments and (after the information she submitted to the DWP was lost twice) she was eventually awarded a backdated payment of over £4000.

"This means having recently reached 66 years of age she was eligible to claim Pension Credit with our help; giving extra money in her pocket as well as her rent and council tax being paid in full.

"She is now £160 a week better off, is no longer behind with her bills and feels more confident budgeting for the winter ahead with a savings buffer for the first time since she had to retire on health grounds."