Heating AllowanceOnce you are 60, you will receive the £200 per annum Government Heating Allowance. It is currently £200 per household and if you live with a partner, once the first one is 60 (you have to be 60 by 24 September in order to receive it around Christmas-time) he or she will receive the £200. When the other partner also reaches 60 you both get £100.
If you're aged 60 and getting a State Pension or other benefit (not including Housing Benefit, Council Tax benefit or Child Benefit) there’s no need to apply - Winter Fuel Payment should be paid to you automatically.
There are more details on www.direct.gov.uk and you can get a claim form by calling the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 08459 151 515, textphone 0845 601 5613. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.
InsulationOn the heating theme, there is a Government initiative called Warm Front that provides a package of home insulation and heating improvements
If you’re aged 60 or over and you live in a privately owned or rented home, you may get a maximum Warm Front Plus grant of £2,700 (for 2006-7) if you receive one of the qualifying income-related benefits. If you are installing an oil-fired central heating system you could receive a grant if up to £4,000 currently.
The scheme differs between England and Wales, and Scotland. You can find more details at www.direct.gov.uk Alternatively, you can phone free on 0800 072 0150.
If you are over 60, you may, in certain circumstances, be able to claim a council tax rebate. If you are on a low income, have few savings and/or are disabled, you could benefit. The rules and conditions are fairly complex but you can find help at www.entitledto.co.uk . Also you get a 25% discount if you live alone. This rule applies to people of all ages, but tends to be especially relevant to older people, many of whom do live alone.
There are other links on the ‘entitledto’ web site that may also help you. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau is also a good source of help.
PrescriptionsOnce you are 60, whether you are male or female, you are entitled to free prescriptions. You may be entitled to them for many other reasons, for example, if you are diabetic, but once you reach 60 you automatically become eligible to obtain all your medicines free of charge.
You are also, at age 60, entitled to free eye tests but you still have to pay for glasses, should you need them. Again, there may be other reasons why you might be eligible for free eye tests but at 60 you can get them free regardless of anything else.
For more details on prescriptions and eye tests, visit www.direct.gov.uk .
Television LicenceEveryone aged 75 or over can get a free TV licence for their main home. The licence also covers other household members living at the address.
If you’re 74 you can apply for a short term licence that will be valid until the end of the month before your 75th birthday.
Travel ConcessionsFrom 1 April 2006, people aged 60 or over in England and Wales are entitled to free off-peak bus travel in the local authority or Passenger Transport Executive area where they live. Off-peak travel is when you travel any time after 9.30am Monday to Friday, and all day at week-ends.
Some bus passes cover a wider area, such as a county. Some also allow travel in the morning rush hour, and in some areas, passes can also be used on trams, trains or taxis. It can get complicated, but the key is to approach your local authority and ensure that you get the travel concessions to which you’re entitled.
In Scotland everyone over 60 is entitled to free, local and long-distance bus travel. From 1 April 2006 older and disabled people can use buses at any time of the day, including the morning rush hour. This scheme is run by Transport Scotland and you will need to apply for an Entitlement Card to travel for free.
In England and Wales, if you’re over 60, you automatically qualify for Routesixty fares. This means you can travel half price on most National Express services. To find out more, telephone 08705 808 080.
You can also go to www.nationalexpress.com/save/routesixty.cfm
In Scotland, if you’re over 60, Scottish Citylink offers Senior Specials, a range of discounted fares for the over 60s that regularly changes. If you have a concessionary travel card, you may be able to travel free on many of their services. To find out more, telephone 08705 505 050.
From April 2008 the local entitlement for free bus travel will be extended to allow bus travel in every area of the country. It will mean that whether using the bus locally, or when visiting other parts of the country, people over 60 will be able to travel for free.
You can save money by combining bus-travel tickets with admission tickets. There’s a range of travel extras to consider too, like inclusive coach and airport-hotel packages as well as theatre, shows and concert deals as well as tickets to European destinations.
Local Authority FacilitiesRemember that many local authority facilities are cheaper for the over-60s. These will probably include adult education classes and entry to your local sports and leisure centre. In many areas, school swimming pools that are open to the public at certain times, e.g. before school starts, give reductions to over-60s.
The concessions will vary from council to council, so you can’t make any assumptions about what you may be entitled to. You can either contact the council offices or ask when you go to your sports and leisure centre, swimming pool or the local college. Be aware of the types of concessions that may be available and make sure you ask about them in your area.