As figures indicate around £16 million per year in Pension Credit, and upwards of £20 million in Income Support, goes unclaimed by Bristol residents each year, a city MP is taking practical steps to ensure people she represents are receiving all their financial entitlements, with a community event on Friday 11 March.
“It’s only fair that if you work hard and contribute to society, through taxes and other means, the system is then there for you when you need it,” says Karin Smyth(Bristol South). “It’s clear that, whilst many people rightly claim what they are entitled to, some miss out.”
So the Labour MP is bringing together a number of Bristol’s financial specialists to give first hand advice and information to local people at an innovative free community event she is organising on Friday 11 March.
The charity Age UK calculates that nationally up to £3.7 billion goes unclaimed by older people each year and whilst the primary focus of the event will be older people, all will be welcome.
“Staggering amounts are involved, and what makes this even more striking is that it’s money that people are eligible to receive, having contributed through taxes and other means,” Karin Smyth adds. “If this was rightly claimed, just think what it could do to help the lives of those who are entitled to it. Think too of the positive impact it would have on the local economy when people spend it. I think it’s got to be worth trying to boost local take-up.
“Sometimes people are not fully aware of what they should be able to receive, and when the rules and regulations change, as they often do, it can be really difficult to keep on top of things.
“Getting access to the right information can be tricky, and it’s important that help is readily at hand, so that’s why I’ve organised this special community event.”
Staff from organisations including Age UK, The Royal British Legion, Care & Repair, Bristol Citizens Advice Bureau, South Bristol Advice Services, and the city council’s benefits team, will be in attendance.
“They are experts at navigating the processes and are very keen to help, so I felt it would be a good idea to get them together and invite local people to come and have a chat individually, over a cup of tea or coffee,” she added.
“By attending, some people may find they are eligible for something they are currently missing out on, but even if they don’t, constituents tell me they would appreciate being assured they are in fact already getting what they are entitled to.”
Karin Smyth’s financial entitlement event takes place at The Park, Daventry Road, Knowle, from 10.30 am – 12.30 on Friday 11 March. Attending organisations will have separate tables in a market-style layout in the main hall. There is no need to book a place.