Age Concern has said some of the poorest older people in England risk losing out on millions of pounds in benefits because of “swingeing” cuts by councils to its advocacy and advice services.
A recent survey by the charity revealed that dedicated advice services in 80% of its local branches faced a funding crisis. Age Concern said that the situation had worsened as further local authority budget cuts took effect at the start of this financial year.
The charity, which launched a campaign on the issue this week, said the services helped older people claim £100m in benefits last year, and warned that 480,000 older people risked receiving a reduced or no service this year due to the cuts.
Director general Gordon Lishman said: “Older people trust us because we are independent, provide face-to-face advice and understand their concerns. It beggars belief that swingeing cuts in information and advice services are being allowed to place the health, well-being and dignity of so many older people at risk.”
Age Concern said that £4.6bn in benefits were going unclaimed each year by pensioners, 1.8m of whom live in poverty across the UK.
A spokesperson for the Local Government Association said: “Individual councils decide how best to spend their grant in adult social care. We can’t interfere with how they choose to spend the money.”
Essential information on older people’s services