West Leeds: Charity helps OAPs to reclaim £30,000 in benefits

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A Leeds charity is urging OAPs to check they are getting all the cash they are entitled to,

Bramley Elderly Action has already helped local pensioners claim £30,000 in missing benefits through a pilot scheme.

But now funding for the scheme has run out, and charity bosses are hoping to secure a grant to help them continue.

The charity worked in partnership with AgeUK Leeds on the advice-surgery based scheme.

Lee Ingham, manager of BEA, said: “This project proves that many older people do not claim the benefits they’re entitled to so we have made a joint funding application with other organisations to restart this important work. Fingers crossed, the project will soon be helping more local elders get the money to which they are entitled.

“We’re looking into how we can continue this important work in the future.”

The successful claims were the result of a twice-monthly surgery in Bramley which ran from August 2011 to May 2012.

A benefits adviser from AgeUK Leeds found that older people were missing out on a whole range of benefits, including Attendance Allowance, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

In many of the cases, claims for benefits have now been successfully backdated.

Norah Gibson, chairman of Bramley Elderly Action, said: “We’re delighted at the success of the surgeries.

“The benefits now rightly claimed will make a real difference to the quality of life of those people.

“Without these local, accessible surgeries, people would have missed out on what’s theirs.”

A recent survey found that more than half of pensioners questioned had failed to claim for their state benefits.

The survey of more than 200 pensioners found that 20 per cent failed to claim any benefit.

They were losing on average £872 a year, and the biggest loss among those polled came to £8,766.

Bramley Elderly Action, founded in 1994, is an independent charity which provides opportunities and support for older people, aged 60 and over, in Bramley, Swinnow and parts of Stanningley.

The organisation has about 1,100 members and about 150 volunteers ranging in age from 18 to 96.

It is one of around 40 independent Neighbourhood Network Schemes for older people in Leeds.