Claim your share of South Holland’s missing millions

Spalding Age UK helped 130 pensioners claim a grand total of £90,000 a year in benefits they didn’t know they were entitled to – and that was just between April and September.

The sum is the tip of the iceberg as around £14.2million goes unclaimed by South Holland people of all ages whether they are working or jobless.

MP John Hayes is offering to make a list available at his office so people who are struggling can see what benefits and other help is available.

The MP said: “I am more than happy to recommend to people that they should certainly take up these entitlements and if they contact my office we will happily give out the details to them.”

Spalding Age UK boss Liz Walmsley said: “There are still some people out there that haven’t claimed what they can claim and we are very busy at the moment trying to get the word out there that you can do something to help with the big bills that are coming in.

“People should be aware that they need to be checking to see if they have got all of their benefits and any help they can get.”

Mrs Walmsley said people “often don’t want to go to the social”, but the money is there, people are entitled to it and they should claim.

There are things like attendance allowance, pension top-ups and help with council tax.

“The Government says there’s a figure that everybody needs to live on and, if people aren’t claiming, it’s a hard life for them,” Mrs Walmsley said.

John Willoughby, strategic manager for South Holland CAB, says there’s been a seven per cent surge in new clients from April-June to July-September – and the two predominant issues are benefits and personal debt.

He said: “A lot of wages here are at the lower end of the wage scale and it will have an impact as energy prices go up.

“One of the first things we will do when we see someone is carry out a benefits check.”

When it’s a choice between heating or eating, Mr Willoughby says food is the thing that people tend to “flex”.

Mr Willoughby said: “We are aware of an increase in the number of people that are using the foodbank at the moment, but it’s a crisis service and not an ongoing service.

“We are referring one client a day down there for some sort of crisis intervention and help with their food.”

It was councillor Chris Brewis, from Sutton Bridge, who revealed £100million in benefits goes unclaimed in Lincolnshire each year and he says the cash would help recipients and South Holland businesses as well as create jobs.

He said: “I would urge people facing difficulties to seek advice as soon as possible.”

l Pensioners who want advice from Age UK can call Alison Thorold on 01775 761951. South Holland residents can also get free, confidential advice from CAB on 01775 717444.