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'let down' for elderly in homes
September 11, 2003
the new Pension Credit, to be introduced on 6 October, pensioners with
modest savings will be rewarded for their thrift - and receive a Savings
"credit" from the government.
Pensioners can get up to £14.79 a week
for a single person and £19.20 for a couple under this savings element
from the Department for Work and Pensions.
But according to the Department of
Health, an estimated 80,000 pensioners who are eligible for the savings
credit and who live in a care homes will have to pay part of the credit
Care home worry
Campaigners say the system is out of
step with the thinking behind the Pension Credit.
Elderly people living in care homes
currently get to "keep" £17.50 for their own private use, and
to pay for everyday items such as hairdressing, clothes, toiletries and
family gifts, as well as other services such as chiropody.
Campaigners have long said that this is
Under the new proposals, older people
will still keep the £17.50 but a single person would only be able to keep
a maximum of £4.50 from their savings credit.
Teresa Perchard, Citizens Advice policy
director, said;: "The current proposals demonstrate a penny-pinching
approach to pensioners in residential care homes, who will not benefit in
full from the extra income in the same way as pensioners who live at
Living at home
Elderly campaigners also fear that
pensioners living in their own homes, but receiving help with care costs
could also lose out.
Unlike pensioners living in care homes,
they will keep the full value of the savings credit - but the planned
system is still contentious, say campaigners.
This is because someone who receives
the savings credit will have the amount disregarded when their income is
assessed by their local authority.
However, another person in a similar
situation, but who just misses qualification for the savings credit
because they have saved too much, will not have income from their own
Rhian Beynon, spokesman for Age
Concern, said some of these people may feel an injustice, because the
credit was brought into reward modest savings.
The government is expected to lay out
the regulations within the next day or so, and campaigners hope it will
take note of the concerns.
A Department of Health spokesman said that the measure would "benefit the great majority of council-supported older care home residents."