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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 UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.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 21 October 2008

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Members Information

The information listed below was provided by Age Concern Scotland. It may be useful to keep this to hand for any help or assistance you may need in the future. My apologies to Age Concern for any misquote.

The Scottish Helpline for Older People helps older people and those who care for, or work with, older people, to find an answer, fast.  Whatever your questions, about community care, tax, pensions, benefits or any other issue, just talk to the Scottish Helpline for Older People, to find an answer - fast.

We're a national helpline so wherever you are, if you have a question, just call us and we'll try to find the answer.  We will provide you with free, confidential information or point you in the right direction to other experts who can help.  We want every older person in Scotland to have access to the same high quality information.

Contact: We have a trained team of paid staff and volunteers who specialise in answering enquiries from, or about, older people.  Our staff are here and ready to help from 10 am - 4 pm, Monday to Friday.

Call us on 0845 125 9732 [local call rates apply]

Textphone:  0845 226 5851

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Tax Changes

‘This information concerns mainly our members aged between of 60 - 64, who were effected by the changes in the tax system this year. There is however some changes for over 65s' listed at end of quote. This information was correct at June 2008'.

There will be no raise in the winter allowance fuel payment for those aged 60 - 64.

There will be no changes in the rules on tax credits for single people ion low income.

Instead - the Government has raised the tax allowance for everyone from £5435 to £6035.

The £600 increase will cut £120 off the tax due from around 22 million people.

That will more than compensate 4 million low-income people who are paying more tax than in 2007/2008. And it will mean more money - usually £120 - for another 17 million who were already paying less tax this year.

But all this will leave slightly more than 1 million people paying more tax this year. And they are all on very low incomes.

People under 65 with an income of between £6845 and £10,505 who do NOT pay National Insurance [NI] contributions will still pay more tax this year than last.

People under 65 who pay NI will pay more tax on an income of between £7131 and £9075. At its worst, someone with a total income of £7455, who does NOT pay NI will pay an extra £61 tax in 2008/2009 than they did in 2007/2008 - out of an income of £143 a week they will pay an extra £1.17p in tax.

People under 65 who earn £7455 a year, and pay NI will pay an extra £32.40p a year, compared with 2007/2008. These losses are £120 less than they would have been. But there are still losses.

Until September everyone will be taxed at the original rate. It will take that long for the Inland Revenue to sort out the new personal allowance.

So in September basis rate taxpayers will get a rebate of up to £60 - and then pay £10 per month less for the rest of the tax year.

People over 65 will generally not benefit. They are already protected from scrapping the 10p tax band by a big increase in their tax allowance - £1180 above the normal inflation rise.

But one group of 0ver-65's will benefit. They have an income above the level where their higher personal allowance is reduced to the standard allowance.

Anyone over the age of 65 with an income above £27,790 [£28,090 for the over-75's] and below £41,435 will now get the new personal tax allowance, and gain up to £120 a year.

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Age Concern Factsheets

On browsing through the Age Concern Website I noticed that they have updated a number of their fact sheets as of this year, and it might be worth a look to see if there are any changes which would benefit you. Website: www.ageconcernscotland.org.uk

For those of you who do not have access to the internet, or do not want access to the internet contact Age Concern at:

Age Concern Scotland
Causewayside House
160 Causewayside
Edinburgh  EH 9 1PR
Telephone:  0845 833 0200
Email:  enquiries@acscot.org.uk
Fax:  0845 833 0759

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What is Attendance Allowance?

Attendance Allowance is a tax-free social security benefit for people aged 65 and over with an illness or a disability who need help with personal care.

Attendance Allowance is NOT income related and NOT affected by savings.

You can still claim Attendance Allowance even if you do not actually get the help you need.

2008-09 rates
Lower £ 44.85 per week
Higher £67.00 per week

Qualifying conditions

To qualify for the lower rate a person must need frequent attention throughout the day in connection with bodily functions or continual supervision throughout the day as avoid substantial damage as themselves or others.


Need prolonged or repeated attention during the night in connection with bodily function or someone to be awake for frequent intervals to watch over them in order to avoid substantial danger to themselves and others.

To qualify for the higher rule a person must satisfy both day and night criteria

What is meant by personal care?

Some examples are-

Help to

  • Move around the house
  • Eat or drink
  • Use the toilet
  • Wash, bath/shower, dress/ undress, shave
  • Use a kidney machine at home
  • Get in and out of bed

This list is not exhaustive.

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What is Carer's Allowance?

Carer's Allowance is a benefit for carers of people who are severely disabled.

The person you are caring for must be getting one of the following:

  • Attendance Allowance (AA)
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) - the middle or highest rate care component

NB If the person being cared for receives an extra amount called the Severe Disability Premium they will lose this if Carer's Allowance is awarded

The carer must:

  • Be aged 16 or over Provide care for that person for at least 35 hours each week
  • Not be on a full-time course (i.e. 21 hours or more) of further education.
  • Be present in Great Britain Not be earning more than £95.00 after allowable expenses.

A person might not be awarded Carer's Allowance if they are getting one of the following benefits:

  • State Pension
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance

This list is not exhaustive.

What if the customer receives Pension credit? If the customer meets the qualifying conditions for Carer's Allowance an extra amount (currently £27.75 per week) can be included when we work out their Pension Credit.

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What is Pension Credit?

Pension credit is a tax-free payment for people aged 60 or over who live in Great Britain There are 2 parts to Pension Credit:

Guarantee Credit - may be paid to people aged 60 or over and tops up weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level.

2008-09 rates:
£124.05 per week if customer is single
£189.35 per week for a couple

Savings Credit - is an extra amount for people aged 65 or over who have saved some money towards their retirement, such as savings or a second pension. You can get Savings Credit on top of Guarantee Credit.

2008-09 cut off points for savings credit:
£173.33 per week if the customer is single
£254.68 per week for a couple

Extra Pension Credit can be paid if:

  • The customer or their partner has a severe disability
  • The customer or their partner cares for a severely disabled person or
  • The customer has certain housing costs such as mortgage interest payments.

Pension Credit can be paid even if:

  • The customer lives with grown-up family
  • The customer owns their own home or
  • They get money from friends, family or charities.

Pension Credit is Income Related

What is counted as Income?:

  • Pensions (State, Work, Personal, Financial Assistance Scheme payment or Pension Protection Fund payments)
  • Some Benefits
  • Earnings from a job.

We DON'T count certain other types of income such as .

  • Attendance Allowance (AA). Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Housing Benefit or
  • Council Tax Benefit

What about savings?

  • First £6000 ignored.
  • For every £500 or part of £500 over £6000 we count £1 as weekly income (For example if you have £8000 savings that is £2000 over the £6000 limit which means that £4 will be added to your weekly income)

Mae Stewart [Apologies to Age Concern for any misquote]