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£200m of pension credit went unclaimed in Wales last year

Age Cymru is urging older people to keep their homes warm this winter to maintain their health, despite the financial challenges many are facing.  

The charity is making the call as it launches its Spread the Warmth campaign that highlights the health benefits of keeping yourself and your home warm. The campaign says keeping warm puts less strain on heart and lungs, while improving the symptoms of existing health conditions and assisting with pain management.    

It also says that being warm can protect people’s physical and mental wellbeing and thereby help them to become more resilient to the many challenges posed by winter.   

Claiming all your benefits  

While we have yet to hear what levels of financial support may be provided by the Welsh and UK governments this winter, it is important that people claim all their financial entitlements.  Last year more than £200m of pension credit went unclaimed in Wales.  

The average Pension Credit award is worth more than £3,500 per year and it can open doors to a whole host of other benefits including support with energy bills, help with council tax and rent, reduced water bills, free NHS dental treatment, and a free TV License if over 75 years of age.  

Pension Credit works by topping up the weekly income of a single pensioner to £201.05 or a pensioner couple to £306.85, or more in some circumstances, and is entirely separate from the State Pension.  

Get your seasonal flu jab  

If eligible, you should already have been contacted by your GP surgery and invited to make an appointment for your free flu vaccination. However, this year healthy 50–64-year-olds will not be included in the NHS free vaccination programme, but you can still ask your local chemist for a paid vaccine.  There are also vaccines available for pneumococcal and shingles for some people.     

Keeping your home warm and safe  

Contact a registered heating engineer to service your heating system before the onset of winter.  It’s also a good idea to contact a chimney sweep to check that vents and chimneys are clean and clear of debris to allow smoke and toxic gases to escape.   

And check smoke detectors are positioned properly and are working so they will give you an early warning if a fire starts in your home.  

Most utility services host a Priority Services Register for vulnerable customers to provide early warnings of disruption to services and to provide specialist advice so ask your supplier how to register for this free service. 

Age Cymru’s Health Initiatives officer, Angharad Phillips says “We urge older people not to cut out heating their home altogether. At the very least people should keep their bedroom and at least one living room at a safe temperature of between 18 to 21 degrees.   

“Cutting back on safety checks or servicing could cause greater risks to your safety and your health. Be ready and reassured that your heating will work for you when you need it later in the year.  Throughout the campaign Age Cymru will be sharing information and ideas on how to keep your home warm as economically as possible. Try to put things in place now, as we know the weather can change and temperatures can drop quickly.”  

“Reach out to charities such as Age Cymru, health professionals, and your energy supplier to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your yourself and your home warm this winter.”  

For more information on our Spread the Warmth campaign call 029 2043 1555 or visit www.agecymru.org.uk/spreadthewarmth