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Commissioner disappointed that Winter Fuel Support Scheme will continue to exclude older people on the lowest incomes

in News

Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement on financial support that will be provided to help tackle the cost of living crisis in Wales, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said:

“Whilst the £150 cost-of-living payment announced today will provide some support for older people, it does not go far enough for those facing potentially catastrophic increases in their living costs.

“I am disappointed that despite my calls, and calls from a growing number of other organisations, for the Welsh Government to widen the eligibility of its Winter Fuel Support Scheme, current plans seem to continue to exclude older people claiming Pension Credit.

“This means that tens of thousands of older people in Wales living on the lowest incomes will miss out, and I would urge the Welsh Government to change its policy so that older people claiming Pension Credit can access the financial support they need to keep themselves safe and warm.

“Alongside this, the Welsh Government must also redouble its efforts to raise awareness of Pension Credit to ensure that as many older people as possible are claiming what they are legally entitled to.

“Over £200 million of Pension Credit went unclaimed in Wales last year, and I am yet to be convinced that the proposals put forward so far to increase the take-up of Pension Credit are sufficient to make a significant difference.

“Furthermore, I am concerned that the eligibility criteria for the Discretionary Assistance Fund is not broad enough to support all of the older people who may need financial help.

“A failure to take further action to support older people through this winter will lead to many thousands of older people throughout Wales suffering with physical health conditions, anxiety caused by financial stress, and sadly many unnecessary hospital admissions.”

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