HUNDREDS of thousands of pensioners on low incomes are not claiming free help worth up to £1,000 year.

The latest government data reveals an estimated £1.7 billion in Pension Credit is going unclaimed.

The money is given to pension households on low incomes to help with living costs, but they can get extra perks such as a free TV licence or energy bill help.

Currently, over 1.4 million pensioners in Britain receive Pension Credit.

There are two different types you can get depending on your circumstances – Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.

The Guarantee Credit element tops up your weekly state pension to £182.60 if you're single and your joint weekly income to £278.70 if you have a partner.

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The Savings Credit element is worth up to £14.48 if you're single and £16.20 if you have a partner.

But there are are still hundreds of thousands of households not claiming it when they're eligible.

Helen Morrissey, of Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Pension Credit can make an enormous difference and acts as a valuable gateway to other benefits.

"However, not enough people are claiming it and more needs to be done to make sure that those who need it get it.

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"The decision to uprate Pension Credit by 10.1% in the Autumn Budget comes as a welcome surprise with claimants also in line for cost-of-living payments of £900 so it is well worth checking if you or a loved one might be eligible.”

The help comes as energy bills, food and housing costs soar.

Here is what you could be missing out on through not claiming Pension Credit.

Free TV licence – Save £159

The government stopped funding free licences for over-75s in 2015 and it became the responsibility of the BBC.

But the BBC announced in 2020 it would drop the initiative to save cash.

It means you can now only get the TV licence for free if you're on Pension Credit.

It usually costs £159 a year so you're making a fair saving.

Cost of living payments – £600

Millions of pensioners are in line for payments worth up to £600 this winter to help them pay for energy bills.

The support comes via the Winter Fuel Payment and Pensioner Cost of Living payments combined.

Households on Pension Credit should have already received both instalments of the £650 cost of living payment as well.

Another £900 payment has been announced by the government but it's not been confirmed who is eligible for the payment at this time.

However, if eligibility criteria is the same as the £650 payment, people on Pension Credit will receive an extra £900.

You can see the full list of upcoming cost of living payments here.

Reduced council tax

Households claiming Pension Credit can in some cases get their council tax bill paid in full.

The average Band D council tax bill in the UK is currently £1,966, so that could be a big saving.

However, council tax support rules vary depending on where you live so you should check your local authority.

Even if you don't get Pension Credit, you may be eligible for some support, particularly if you live alone, are disabled or have caring responsibilities.

To find out what you might get, you need to enter your postcode on the government's website.

Prescription costs – £9.35

Claimants on the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit can get free prescriptions.

A prescription costs £9.35 in England so you could get a lot of savings if you have a condition requiring lots of medication.

You can sometimes get dental treatment, glasses and free transport costs for hospital appointments if you're on Pension Credit.

You can find out more about claiming prescriptions for free here.

Cold weather payments – £25 per week

People on Pension Credit, income support, Jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or Universal Credit can get £25 a week to help with energy bills through the cold weather payment scheme.

The payment is made each time the average temperature in your area is zero degrees Celsius or below over a seven-day period between November and March.

But you don't need to apply for the help as you'll receive it automatically into your bank account within 14 days of the cold spell ending.

You can find out more about Cold weather payments and how to apply in our guide here.

Warm home discount scheme – £150

Pension Credit claimants can get £150 off their heating bills during the winter under the warm home discount scheme.

The money is not paid directly to you, but is a discount off your energy bills between October and March, when you're likely to use more energy due to colder weather.

Plus, the discount is only available if your provider has chosen to offer it.

You can check which other suppliers are part of the scheme on the Gov.uk website.

Plus, you can check out our nifty guide.

Housing benefit

You can get help from the government paying your rent or mortgage if you're on the guaranteed element of Pension Credit.

It comes as rental prices reach record levels across the UK.

Tenants can get their full rent paid through Housing Benefit and homeowners can get help with mortgage interest payments.

You can apply through your local council or as part of a Pension Credit claim.

Budgeting loans – up to £812

You might be able to get a budgeting loan to help cover your living expenses.

These payments are worth between £100 and £812.

They can be used to pay for essential items such as home improvements or security, funeral costs or clothes and furniture.

The maximum amount you can get depends on your circumstances:

  • £348 if you’re single
  • £464 if you’re part of a couple
  • £812 if you have children

However, one thing to note is that because the money is a loan, you have to repay it.

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You have to repay what you borrow within 104 weeks and it is usually from your benefit payments until the loan is paid off.

You can read more about budgeting loans here.

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