Tips for saving money from Independent Age
As the cost of living continues to soar, we’ve partnered with older people’s charity, Independent Age, to help you find ways to save money.
Their guide, Moneywise, is packed with information to help boost your income and cut your bills and is available in a number of formats, including an accessible audio version.
We’ve outlined the key points below. For more information, visit the Independent Age website.
Boosting your income
- Claim pension credit. Nearly two out of five people who qualify for Pension Credit aren’t claiming it, and it only takes one phone call to find out if you can get it. Call the Pension Service on 0800 991234 to make a claim.
- The State Pension. You won't receive this automatically, so make sure you claim it. You can check your State Pension age by using the calculator on gov.uk/state-pension-age or call the Pension Service on 0800 991234.
- Check whether you’re on the best deal for your insurance and utilities. Look at your insurance policies, utility companies, and telephone and broadband providers. You can call around other companies to get quotes, or use a price comparison website such as Uswitch or call 0800 688 8557.
- Consider switching your bank account. Switching bank accounts is easier than ever, as your new bank will do all the work for you.
- Trace lost money. If you're lost track of old bank accounts, pensions or insurance policies, you can get help with finding them.
- Pay your bills by direct debit. Make sure you never miss a payment, and you may even get a discount.
- Check your direct debits and standing orders. Are there are any services you no longer use?
- Get a free or discounted TV license. You can get a free TV licence if you are 75 or over and receiving Pension Credit. If you’re registered as blind, you can claim a 50% discount on your TV licence regardless of your age.
- Take control of your debt. If you’re finding it difficult to repay what you owe, there is help available.
- Discounts for over-60s. Many shops, museums, theatres and leisure centres offer discounts once you’re 60.
Heating your home and reducing your bills
Claim the benefits you’re entitled to
- Winter Fuel Payment. This is an annual payment of between £100 and £300 depending on your circumstances.
- Cold weather payment. If you get Pension Credit or certain other benefits, you’ll usually get a Cold Weather Payment of £25 each time the temperature in your area is at 0°C (32°F) or below for seven days in a row between 1 November and 31 March.
- Warm home discount. You may qualify for a £140 discount on your electricity or gas bill if you receive Guarantee Pension Credit or you’re on a low income.
Make energy efficiency changes
You may get help with insulating your home through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme. You may also get help to repair or replace your window glazing or heating system if you:
- receive certain benefits
- are in fuel poverty
- live on a low income and are vulnerable to the effects of a cold home
Apply for a grant
If you’re having trouble paying your energy bills, some energy companies have grants or trusts that can help. Contact your own supplier first, or find out if you might qualify for a local or national grant scheme at simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/grants.
Good to know
Switching supplier is often the best way to save money on your fuel bills. It may be quicker and easier than you think, especially if you’re online. Check whether you're on the best deal for your insurance and utilities by calling around other companies to get quotes or using a price comparison website such as Uswitch.
- Help with NHS health costs. In England and Wales, you can get free prescriptions and free eye tests once you turn 60. In Scotland, everyone regardless of age is entitled to free prescriptions, eye tests, dental check-ups and NHS wigs and fabric supports. If you receive Guarantee Pension Credit, you qualify for extra help with certain health costs. You’ll get free NHS dental treatment and, if you’re in England or Wales, free NHS dental check-ups and NHS wigs and fabric supports.
- NHS Low Income Scheme. If you don’t receive Guarantee Pension Credit, you may still qualify for help through the NHS Low Income Scheme.
- Attendance Allowance. If you have a long-term health condition or disability that means you need help with personal care or supervision to keep you safe, you may qualify for Attendance Allowance. Being awarded Attendance Allowance can also increase your Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support. If you’re under State Pension age, you may qualify for Personal Independence Payment instead.
- Housing Benefit. Housing Benefit can cover some or all of your rent if you’re a tenant on a low income. It can also cover some service charges.
- Discretionary Housing Payments. If you get Housing Benefit but you’re still finding it hard to pay your rent, deposit or removal costs, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
- Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). If you’re a homeowner and you’re getting certain benefits, you may be eligible for an SMI loan. This can help cover the interest payments on your mortgage or on a loan you’ve taken out for repairs and improvements.
- Council Tax discounts and support. If you live alone, your home is empty, your home has been adapted or you live with someone on low income who isn't your partner, you may be able to reduce your Council Tax bill.
- Saving money on your water bill. Switching to a water meter might save you money, as you only pay for what you use.
- Free bus travel. In England, you can get a bus pass for free travel when you reach State Pension age. In Wales and Scotland, you can get a bus pass when you reach 60. You may also be entitled to free bus travel if you have a disability.
- Discount train fares. A Senior Railcard gives you a third off most train fares if you’re 60 or over.
- Discount coach travel. A Senior Coachcard gives you a third off most fares if you’re 60 or over.
- Cheaper travel if you’re disabled. You may be able to buy a Disabled Railcard which gives you a third off train fares for you and a friend or a Disabled Coachcard.
- Community transport. If you find it difficult to use public transport, ask your council about community transport in your area.
- Hire, adapt or buy a vehicle using your disability benefits. If you receive the mobility component of certain disability benefits, you can apply to the Motability Scheme to hire, buy or adapt an electric wheelchair, mobility scooter or car.
- Blue Badge scheme. If you are registered blind, have a disability or receive certain disability benefits, you may qualify for a Blue Badge to help you park closer to where you need to go.
If you don’t have a Disabled Railcard but you’re blind, partially sighted or use a wheelchair, you may still be eligible for up to half-price train travel. Ask at the station ticket office or visit National Rail to find out more.
- Grants from your local council. If you live in England, start by asking your local council if they have a Local Welfare Assistance Scheme. For example, they may be able to offer you a grant, vouchers, or white goods such as a fridge or cooker. In Scotland, ask them about the Scottish Welfare Fund and in Wales, the Discretionary Assistance Fund.
- Budgeting Loans. Loans can help with one-off essential expenses if you get Pension Credit or certain other benefit.
- Grants from charities. You may be surprised by how many different charities offer grants. You may qualify for help based on your age, where you live, or medical condition, for example. Turn2us can help you find a charity to apply to.
- Paying for a funeral. If you’re on a low income and receive certain benefits, and you need help to pay for a funeral you’re responsible for arranging, you may qualify for a Funeral Expenses Payment.
Help with extra costs if you're a carer
This is the main benefit for carers over State Pension age. It is paid at £69.70 a week. To qualify, you must spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone who receives certain disability benefits. You mustn’t be in full-time education or earning more than £132 a week in take home pay, after certain deductions.
If you’re getting a State Pension and you get £69.70 or more a week from your State Pension or certain other benefits, you won’t be paid Carer’s Allowance. Instead, you’ll be awarded an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance. This is good news as it may increase the amount of any means-tested benefits you’re entitled to, such as Pension Credit.
And if you don’t currently get any means-tested benefits, you may find you now qualify because of this entitlement.
How to claim
Get a claim form by calling the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0800 7310 297 or download it from gov.uk/carers-allowance. Before you claim, you need to make sure the person you care for won’t lose money from their benefits as a result of you claiming Carer’s Allowance. Call Independent Age on 0800 3196 789 to get an appointment to talk this through with a benefits adviser.
In Scotland, you may also be entitled to Carer’s Allowance Supplement, an extra payment for people who get Carer’s Allowance.
Make sure the person you care for is getting their benefits
If you or someone you care for has a disability or long-term health condition, make sure you’re both getting all the benefits you’re entitled to. They may qualify for a disability benefit – either Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment depending on their age.
Help with taxes
- Check you’re not missing out on any allowances. If you are registered blind or severely sight-impaired, you can claim Blind Person’s Tax Allowance. If your income is too low to use up all your allowance, you can transfer the remainder to your spouse or civil partner. Or if you are married and one of you was born before 6 April 1935, you can claim Married Couple’s Allowance which cuts your tax bill. If you were both born after this date, you may be able to claim Marriage Allowance instead.
- Reclaim any overpaid tax. If you paid too much tax because you didn’t claim an allowance or too much tax was taken from your income, make sure you claim it back. You may not be given it automatically. Call HMRC on 0300 200 3300 for help.
- Check your tax code. Your tax code tells your employer or pension provider how much Income Tax to take from your wages or pension. If it’s wrong, it could be costing you hundreds of pounds a year. Use the tax code calculator or call HMRC on 0300 200 3300.
- Complete your tax return on time. Most people don’t have to fill in tax returns, but if you do, make sure you fill it in by 31 October, or 31 January if you’re doing it online.
Get a benefits check
You have nothing to lose and potentially lots to gain. Call Independent Age on 0800 3196789 to get started or try their online benefits calculator.
Apply for Pension Credit if you’re not already getting it. Call the Pension Service on 0800 991234 to make a claim over the phone.
Check you're on the cheapest energy tariff
Check you’re on the cheapest energy tariff. Visit Citizens Advice to get started.
If you have a disability or long-term health condition, apply for Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. They aren’t means-tested, so your income and savings aren’t taken into account.
If you’ve got unexpected costs to pay, ask if your local council can help, or contact Turn2us on 0808 802 2000 to find out about charity grants that may be available.
Help with taxes
Taxes can be confusing, so contact Tax Help for Older People if you’re on a low income and need help making sense of yours. Call 0130 8488 066 or visit taxvol.org.uk.