Councillors in West Devon are to be briefed on government benefits so they can help more residents apply for help to get them through the cost of living crisis.
It comes after only 17 of the 144 eligible pensioners written to by the council had made successful claims for Pension Credit.
Members of the ‘hub’ committee agreed to take immediate steps to get £150 support payments to the most cash-strapped residents after the government contributed £250,000 from the Household Support Funding to make payments up to March 2024. They will get a further payment of £250 this December.
Residents with caring responsibilities who receive carers allowance or other benefits will also be eligible for help as will those receiving War Disablement Pension and single parent households.
The funding supports households struggling to meet food, energy, water and other essential living needs. It is allocated through several schemes in Devon to reach people experiencing financial hardship. All district and city councils have been provided with funding to provide targeted financial help to households that need it most.
The council has also agreed to work with Armed Forces’ charities and affiliated organisations to identify other residents who may be need support making support payments of a similar amount on a case by case basis.
Councillors at the committee spoke of the complex nature of benefits and their desire to become more informed so they could advise people on claiming. They were concerned that the take-up by pensioners had been low, possibly because of the process involved.
In addition to extra weekly income, pensioners eligible for Pension Credit can get a £900 cost of living payment and other assistance such as a free TV licences for the over-75s and help with NHS costs such as dental treatment and glasses.
Cllr Jeff Moody (Ind, Tavistock North) said district and parish councillors were the best people to get the word out, deliver leaflets and make sure residents in their areas were not falling through the net.
If you know of a pensioner who has not yet claimed, information is available at www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim
Cllr Tony Leech (Ind, Okehampton north), executive member for health and wellbeing said: “With this funding round, we want to look towards those who may not have received any help but need our support.
“Carers who do so much to support their families and in turn our communities, are next in line for our help. Finally, those veterans who are in receipt of a pension for their services to our country. Veterans who may have been injured or suffered from illness because of their armed forces service, deserve our lasting support and thanks.
“As always, there are so many people we wish we could help if we had the finances, and we do what we can. Hopefully, this money will help our residents make life just that little bit easier.”