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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 UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.

Issue 2 December 2002

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Don't Know Which Way to Turn

Is a free Advice Service leaflet produced by Help the Aged, for older people, their relatives, carers and friends.

This leaflet tells us of free advice and information that can be given by Seniorline on social security benefits; community and residential care; housing options and adaptations; other information for older people and their carers.

You can contact them free on: 0800 800 6565 or 0800 26 96 26

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UNISON Welfare Factsheet on New Convalescence Service:

Excerpt to inform members of the availability of this service:

Purpose: To help members and/or their dependants who are unwell and who are not in need of nursing care to recuperate or rest in supportive and caring environments, appropriate to their individual needs. Similarly to help members where there are other special circumstances.

This factsheet has been designed to provide information on the new convalescence service that has been developed. It fully explains the different aspects of the service and sets out the criteria which now applies.

Also included are details of the convalescent centres that members can use, together with the information on other centres that may be useful for anyone with special needs.

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information contained in this factsheet is correct, it must be appreciated that current information on other organisations may be subject to alteration at any time.

There followed an introduction of the service and pages of particular details of convalescent accommodation. If anyone is interested the can contact UNISON about this leaflet at:

UNISON Welfare, 1 Mabledon Place, London, WC1H 9AJ
Telephone: 020 7391 9170

e-mail: welfare@unison.co.uk

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Retired & Senior Volunteer Programme

RSVP is an organization for older volunteers and part of Community Service Volunteers.

RSVP in Scotland: Around 150 RSVP volunteers work with GP practices, in primary schools, in hospitals, and on ‘talking newspapers' for blind people.

New initiatives include a cross-generational project on a sustainable environment, working with leading Scottish children's charity, and developing links with a community based theatre group.

You can contact this organization at:

RSVP Scotland or RSVP Scotland
Wellgate House 236 Clyde Street
200 Cowgate Glasgow
Edinburgh G1 4JH

Telephone 0131 622 7766 0141 204 1681
Fax: 0131 622 7755 0141 204 0688

e-mail: info.csv.rsvp@connectfree.co.uk



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Help With Bills and Expenses

[taken from Age Concern Book ‘Your Rights 2002-2003]

Fuel: There are no regular weekly social security payments towards fuel bills but there are Winter Payments and Cold Weather Payments. Grants towards insulation and draught proofing may help you heat your home more effectively.

Fuel Debts: If you cannot pay your fuel bills you may be threatened with disconnection. However, all gas and electricity suppliers must offer special services to people of pensionable age and people with disabilities or who are chronically sick. These services include not disconnecting supplies for non-payment of bills during the winter months to households where all the occupants are pensioners.

Other services that you would be entitled to are: an annual free safety check for gas customers; provision of special controls or adaptors for meters and electrical appliances; and repositioning of meters if it would be more convenient.

Let your gas or electricity supplier know that you want to register for these services.

‘Fuel Direct'

If you have a fuel debt and are receiving Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's allowance [JSA], you may be able to avoid disconnection or get reconnected by going on ‘fuel direct'. Some of your benefit will be withheld every week and paid direct to the company. If you think that too large an amount is being withheld, ask the local social security office which administers your Income Support whether the company will accept a smaller amount.

Winter Fuel Payments:

Winter Fuel Payments started in Winter 1997-1998 to provide help with the cost of fuel bills for pensioner households. They are made to most people aged 60 or over living in Great Britain and there are no income or savings limits. The payments are based on someone's age and other circumstances in the week beginning with the third Monday in September.

In the winter of 2001-2002 the WFP was £200 for eligible households, and the Government has said that payments at this level will continue to be made each winter during this parliament: thus for Winter 2002-2003, if you are aged 60 or over, you will normally receive £100 or £200, depending on your circumstances.

If you, or your partner, if you have one, do not receive Income Support [or income based Job Seekers Allowance] you should get £200 if you are the only person in the household entitled to a payment, or £100 if you share a household with one or more other people entitled to a payment: for example - a married couple, or two friends living together, will each receive £100.

If you are receiving Income Support you should receive £200 regardless of who else is in the household. If you are one of a couple and your partner receives Income Support, then he or she will receive £200 on behalf of both of you, and you will not get a payment.

Some people are not eligible for payments - for example people living permanently in a care home who receive Income Support, and people who have been in hospital for more than 52 weeks will not get a payment. People who are living in a care home who are not receiving Income Support will normally receive £100.

Cold Weather Payments:

If you receive Income Support or Income based JSA and it includes a pensioner or disability premium, you may eligible for cold weather payments. A payment of £8.50 is made when the average temperature at a specified weather station has been recorded as, or is forecast to be, 0 Celsius or below over seven consecutive days. Savings are not taken into account. These payments will be made automatically so you do not have to make a claim.

Grants for Energy Efficiency - Scotland Only:

In Scotland energy grants are made under the Warm Deal scheme. The grant covers a package of energy efficiency measures, all or some of which may offered, according to the energy needs of the home. Grants may be offered to homeowners and tenants [including council tenants] who receive any or more of the following income-related benefits: Income Support, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or certain disability benefits, including Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance.

The maximum grant is £500 and may cover the following energy efficient measures: cavity wall insulation; loft insulation; draught proofing; hot and cold tank and pipe insulation; energy advice and up to four energy efficient light bulbs. The scheme is administered by EAGA Partnership which can arrange for a registered installer to do the work.

If you want to carry out the work yourself, a lower grant of up to £160 is available to cover the cost of materials, but you must not buy any materials until authorized by EAGA. Those over 60, but not in

receipt of any benefits listed above, may qualify for a reduced grant of £125 or 25% of the cost of the work, whichever is the lower.

For more information about grants and how to apply contact the Energy Action Grants Agency [EAGA] on Freephone 0800 072 0150.


Free Central Heating:

The Scottish Executive is currently working to provide free central heating for every pensioner and for all those in local authority housing in Scotland who do not currently have central heating. Work will continue on this project until 2006.

Free central heating is available regardless of income or savings, and the scheme covers up to £2,500 worth of work. EAGA Partnership administers the scheme for privately rented and owner occupied housing. You can contact them on: 0800 653 1653

If you live in council or housing association accommodation, your landlord will be able to give you more details about work they will do under the scheme.

For more information, contact your local energy advice centre on : Freephone 0800 512 012.

Help with bills and expenses information seems to have taken up quite a bit of magazine space, but I feel that this is an important issue for us all, and especially those who look forward to the bad weather with dread. And for those of us more fortunate, you may not have claimed all that you are entitled to.

So - if in doubt, call the freephone numbers.

As usual at this point I offer my apologies for the sources of my information, for any misquotes, spellings, or anything else that you know I usually do. So double-check on the information as well when you phone.

Mae Stewart

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