Headlines: February 7th, 2005

Voluntary organisations are to share more than ten million pounds from the Pension Service Partnership Fund to help older people claim state benefits to which they are entitled. News of the funding follows a successful pilot run by the Royal National Institute for the Blind.The money will go to 170 voluntary bodies, including Citizens Advice, Age Concern, Carers UK and Deafblind UK and covers the next two years. Pensions Minister, Malcolm Wicks said the fund would allow what he called “a mighty coalition” of organisations to deliver extra help to hard pressed pensioners. As well as charities and voluntary bodies, local authorities, housing associations and NHS Primary Care Trusts can benefit from the funding.

The scheme was tested in a pilot in Nottinghamshire run by the RNIB in 2003. That was judged to have been a resounding success after pensioners were helped to receive 150,000 pounds worth of benefits that were previously unclaimed.

The Partnership Fund is part of the Government’s Link-Age strategy. Mr Wicks said, “We are determined that a benefit entitlement on paper should become money in the pocket and the new Partnership Fund will help this happen.”