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Pension 'let down' for elderly in homes

BBC News

 September 11, 2003 

Elderly woman and a nurseUnder 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 back.

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 not enough.

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 home."

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 savings disregarded.

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."


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