Money-saving tips for pensioner: From help on heating to days out


Millions of Britons face an anxious wait to see if state pensions rise by inflation as promised – or whether they will have to settle for a much smaller increase.

Earlier this month, when prime minister, Liz Truss promised to keep the state pension triple lock.

This is a pledge to raise payments in line with the highest of either inflation, average earnings or 2.5 per cent.

It raised hope among pensioners that they would see a ten per cent rise next April. But her successor, Rishi Sunak, has not yet committed to honouring the pledge.

Millions of Britons face an anxious wait to see if state pensions rise by inflation as promised – or whether they will have to settle for a much smaller increase

With any rise still six months away, all pensioners are set to face a winter of higher bills for energy, food, fuel and going out.

Helen Morrissey, senior pensions analyst at the online investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘Times have been tough for many pensioners as the soaring cost of living bit down hard on their finances.

‘They also had the huge uncertainty of whether the triple lock would return to give them a decent increase in their state pension for next year.

‘However, there are other ways to try to make your money go a bit further in these trying times from extra Government help to savings on travel and days out.’

To help pensioners to beat the squeeze, here is a summary of the help they can get:

Pension Credit

Only two-thirds of those eligible claim pension credit, which tops up the income of the poorest pensioners to £182.60 per week for a single person and £278.70 for a couple.

If you are a carer or are disabled, you can get further top-ups. It is also a valuable gateway to other benefits, such as help with your council tax bill and a free television licence for those who are over the age of 75.

You may also qualify for help with various NHS costs such as dental treatment, glasses and travel to hospital appointments.

In addition, pension credit claimants are entitled to the Warm Home Discount, a £150 one-off payment to your energy supplier, which deducts that amount from your monthly bills between November and March.

Extra help for heating  

Those born before September 25, 1956, should automatically receive a Winter Fuel Payment with their state pension.

Normally this is between £100 to £300 per pensioner, depending on their age and whether they cohabit. This year, due to the cost-of-living crunch, a further £300 has been added.

There are other one-off cost of living-related payments from the Government.

Every energy bill payer gets £400 taken off bills automatically in six instalments.

Those in receipt of Pension Credit are entitled to a further £650 Cost of Living Payment to help cover bills generally. Half should have been paid into banks in July and the rest will come in November.

There’s another energy-related payment for older people on Pension Credit – for cold snaps. If average temperatures dip below freezing for seven consecutive days, they will automatically be paid a £25 Cold Weather Payment.

To be clear, there are five energy or cost-of-living payments – Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payment, Cold Weather Payment, plus the Cost of Living Payment and the £400 discount for everyone.

Those in receipt of Pension Credit are entitled to a further £650 Cost of Living Payment to help cover bills generally. Half should have been paid into banks in July and the rest will come in November

Those in receipt of Pension Credit are entitled to a further £650 Cost of Living Payment to help cover bills generally. Half should have been paid into banks in July and the rest will come in November

Travel: how to save on costs

You can get a free bus pass if you are over state pension age in England or over 60 in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It isn’t given automatically, so you will need to apply.

Londoners can get free travel on the city’s buses, Tubes, trains and trams from 60 with the 60+ London Oyster card. Initially it costs £20. However, it can be renewed annually for £10.

From the age of 65 they can switch to the Freedom Pass, which covers the Transport for London network, plus bus services across England.

For train travel the Senior Railcard offers a third off rail tickets. A one-year card costs £30, while a three-year version offers even better value at £70.

For coach travel, the National Express Senior Coach card costs £15 per year. It gets you a third off travel, plus £15 returns mid-week anywhere in the UK.

Health

In England, prescriptions are free from the age of 60. This happens automatically and no certificate is necessary. They are free for all ages in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You can get free eye tests from the same age. You don’t have to say anything when you book but you should bring proof of age to your appointment. Those on Pension Credit can get free spectacles, too.

For those who must buy glasses, Specsavers and Boots Opticians offer discounts on them for the over-60s. Specsavers, for instance, offers 25 per cent off all glasses over £69.

Get money off days out

If you’re a National Trust member – and have been for at least five of the past ten years – you can get senior membership at 25 per cent off.

Meanwhile, senior membership from English Heritage, available from the age of 65, costs £59 – down from £66.

Cinemas often offer discounts to older people. Odeon has specific screenings for seniors with £3.50 tickets and free refreshments, while Showcase Cinemas offer £5 tickets for seniors every Monday morning.

Theatres and art galleries will often also offer discounts to the over-60s so it’s worth checking before a visit. Major football, rugby and cricket clubs offer senior discounts on season ticket and membership prices.

Shopping and eating

Older people can also get discounts in a range of shops and restaurants – and it is worth asking even if they’re not advertised.

The supermarket chain Iceland announced in May it was helping older people with the rising cost of living by offering ten per cent off for over-60s every Tuesday with no minimum spend.

Boots has special offers on its Advantage Card for over-60s, with more points for each pound spent in store, special discounts, and special offers – including extra points if you have a free hearing test.

B&Q offers a free B&Q Diamond Card for over-60s with ten per cent off selected products on Wednesdays. The discount used to cover any purchase, but since 2018, it’s been limited to selected gardening and Christmas products.

Dobbies Garden Centres offers a main course and a cake for £9.95 Monday to Friday for over-60s in its restaurants. Its mains alone normally cost over a tenner.

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