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Provided by Mae Stewart, Editor UNISON Retired members Newsletter, Dundee, Perth and Angus.
Please note that this is not definitive information about benefits but will provide a signpost as to where to get up to date information. Please check the sources first. UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate. The member's information excerpts this month were taken from the Pensioners Forum Newsletter, and the local Dundee magazine called Retired & Living in Dundee. My apology for any misquotes.

Issue 15 September 2007

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NHS-24 Help the Aged have issued a booklet called ‘Important Information for Older People'.

This booklet gives comprehensive information about NHS-24 and how to this service most efficiently.

For a copy of booklet you can download from the NHS-24 website at: www.nhs24.com

Or call the NHS Helpline on 0800 22 44 88

There is a website called helptheaged.org.uk' that I thought would be useful for you to know about [if you don't already]. This site is the official site of Help the Aged, and is updated regularly with any/all information relating to pensioner issues.

Here are some extracts:

Over £4.2 billion of means-tested benefits go unclaimed by older people every year.

Many people find the number of benefits on offer, and the complex rules for how to claim them, daunting.

** Every financial year your old benefits are revised, and new benefits introduced, so even if you have not been able to claim money in the past, you could get help now. **

Pension Credit: A new benefit which tops up your weekly income.

Council Tax Benefit: Help with the payment of your Council Tax.

Housing Benefit: Help with rent for those with lower incomes.

Funeral Benefits: Financial help with the cost of a funeral.

Social Fund: Extra help with other expenses for those who already claim Pension Credit.

Attendance Allowance: Help for those with a disability aged 65 or over. 

Disability Benefits: Help getting around for the immobile.

Winter Payments: Payments you can receive when the weather gets cold.

Health benefits: Help with prescriptions as well as dental and other health costs.

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Check your tax - Useful contacts

HM Revenue and Customs

Find out what leaflets are available and order them from the orderline on: 0845 9000 404.

You can get help and advice on tax issues from your local HM Revenue & Customs Enquiry Centre; look in the telephone book under 'Revenue & Customs' or 'Inland Revenue' and make an appointment. The walk-in high street centres have now all closed. HM Revenue and Customs produces some leaflets on tax but many of the more useful ones have been withdrawn or are now only available online at  www.hmrc.gov.uk/leaflets. There is a special section of the website for pensioners at www.hmrc.gov.uk/pensioners

If you write to HM Revenue and Customs you should get a reply within 15 days or a letter telling you how long it will take to respond to your query. If you have a complaint you should raise it with the tax office concerned and get the leaflet COP1 'Putting things right. How to complain'. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may also be able to help.

Institute of Chartered Accountants

If your tax affairs are complex then you may need the help of an accountant. Make sure they belong to a professional body such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants (Tel: 020 7920 8100) or for The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland (Tel: 0131 347 0100). The Institute can put you in touch with local members. Always ask for an indication of the fee before committing yourself.

Tax Aid

If you can't afford advice from an accountant, you can get free and independent advice on tax from the charity TaxAid. Phone 0845 120 3779 between 10am - 12 noon, Monday-Thursday.

Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG)

  • LITRG has a useful website with a specific section for older people.

There is also a free help line which offers free advice: SeniorLine: 0808 800 6565
(Textphone-Minicom 0800 26 96 26)

My apologies to those involved in the issuing of the above information for any misquotes.

Mae Stewart


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Getting information on the web - accessing computers - they're here to stay!


Once again, could I please remind members that more and more information is being accessed only through the Internet.

And although some of you may not feel comfortable using this method of information retrieval, it's definitely here to stay.

So, it might be worthwhile to consider learning the very basics of computing, and then going along to your library, where you can access and print off anything you find that would be useful to you. And you never know you might just take to being a silver surfer like the proverbial duck.

Also there is a service provided free by the Scottish Executive called an ILA at www.ilascotland.org.uk/ILA+Homepage.htm

You can get the telephone number from Help the Aged, and I believe you can get a small grant to allow you to go to computer classes free of charge. I do not think this is income related, but you could find out about it if you were interested.

Mae Stewart

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