Cash boost to help people claim their allowances

EXTRA funding has been agreed to ensure that disabled older people in Northumberland know how to claim their entitlement to attendance allowance.

Age UK has been awarded £6,000 from Northumberland County Council towards a project which will support volunteers and service providers who are in contact with disabled older people to understand how to identify and help people who may be eligible for this non-means-tested benefit which helps with extra costs of disability.

The project will include developing volunteers to become attendance allowance promoters who will encourage people they know, and come into contact with, to claim their right and entitlement to this allowance as well as assist residents to fill in forms and signpost them to relevant agencies.

Fewer people than expected claim this benefit in Northumberland, and the council has given this issue high priority in recent years, after discovering that numbers were falling year by year still further behind other areas. That trend has now been reversed, but the council still believes that the number of claimants is lower than it should be.

Coun Ian Lindley, county’s executive member for adult care and wellbeing said: “We are determined to build services which help our older residents to be as independent as possible, where they are happiest - in their own homes.

“We believe that the quality of all our lives depends on the links we have with the community in which we live and we will ensure our older people are part of their community.

“Disability or ill health often makes this difficult and can mean that older people face higher costs, if they can no longer do certain things for themselves. Attendance allowance can help with that.

“It is vital to stress that this is available to everyone who needs it, regardless of their income or savings. So, this project will enable our older people to access the funding which will enable them to make lifestyle choices; to be able to take part in leisure and social opportunities; be able to shop for themselves, as well as additional services such as cleaners.”

Although attendance allowance is a disability benefit, you don’t need to be registered as disabled or be receiving help from social services to qualify, nor to be in financial difficulties.

If you are over 65 and have a physical disability, a long-term illness, sight or hearing problems, or any other physical or mental condition that means you need extra support, you may be eligible to claim.

Advice and support with claiming is available from the Age UK Northumberland advice line on 08450 950150 or 01665 605707 (Monday to Thursday 10am to 1pm), or from the Citizens Advice Bureau.