Attendance allowance: Concern Northumberland pensioners are missing out on hundreds

Council and health chiefs in Northumberland want to spread awareness and encourage older people to claim a benefit which is their ‘right’.

Wednesday, 3rd July 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th July 2019, 4:49 pm
Picture by PA

Attendance allowance (AA) is for people over 65 who have a disability or illness that makes it hard for them to look after themselves. It is not means-tested, tax-free and exempt from the benefits cap.

The current rates are £57.30 a week for help either in the day or at night and £85.60 a week for help both day and night.

During a discussion of the work of Northumberland County Council’s welfare rights team at the health and wellbeing committee on July 2, there was widespread agreement that more should be done to boost the take-up of

Keith Thompson, welfare rights team manager said two additional temporary AA worker posts have been made permanent in the past year, but said that more could always be done to spread the word.

Coun Veronica Jones, the cabinet member for adult health and wellbeing, said: “People often say there’s no point in applying, because I applied before and…, but it’s about filling in the forms properly and people can help with that.

“There’s also a pride and reluctance to apply for benefits and that’s the bit we need to get over, because it’s your right.”

For the council itself, there is a potential benefit as recent proposals suggest that the Government could increase its revenue grant to local authorities by around £1,500 for each person claiming AA.

Mr Thompson also highlighted that there is just over a month left for mixed-age couples to make Pension Credit claims, which could result in an extra £7,500 a year.

Up until now, in a couple where one person is of pension age and the other is younger, a Pension Credit claim can be made, but this is changing so that both people must be of pension age before the couple is eligible for Pension Credit.

This could make a significant difference in income as Pension Credit for a couple is £255 a week, while Universal Credit is £498 a month.

The last chance for existing mixed-age couples to make backdated claims is approaching – Tuesday, August 13.