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PEOPLE who have phoned a free advice line run by the councils and partner organisations in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot to check whether they are missing out on benefits say it has made a huge difference to their finances.

The 0800 112 4763 number was launched earlier this year to support people over the age of 66 who may be missing out on Pension Credit.

Two in every five people who qualify for the benefit do not claim what they are entitled to and are on average missing out on £39-a-week, according to government figures.

But callers have also found that family members who live with them have been missing out on other benefits.

One caller said: “I only rang up to see if I qualified, I didn’t, but my son who lives with me was missing out on £37.50 a week.”

Another added: “My daughter, who I live with, has received a 25% discount on her council tax so it’s well worth giving this line a ring as we didn’t know anything about this.”

Government figures also show each additional £1 people receive in benefit is worth £4 to the local economy so by claiming benefits that they are entitled to they are helping support local jobs and local businesses.

Entitlement to Pension Credit also accesses claimants to fringe benefits including help with travel costs to hospital and NHS charges, access to a free TV licence if you are over 75, discretionary assistance payments to assist with purchasing one-off items and they are automatically passported through the financial means test for housing benefit and council tax reduction.

One pensioner who called added:

“I’ve now got some money in my pocket, so no longer have to penny pinch.  With the arrears, I am going to take my family out for a meal once restrictions have been lifted.”

The advice line is open between 10 am and 3 pm Monday to Thursday and is completely free.

The line is answered by staff who work within the Local Authorities Welfare Rights Service, Care and Repair Western Bay, and Citizen’s Advice.  They are helpful and friendly and are trained to provide advice and support on benefit entitlement.

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