12:05am Friday 9th March 2012
© Press Association 2013
Researchers will study whether helping pensioners who live in poverty to claim their rightful benefits has health advantages, scientists announced.
Around two million pensioners in the UK are officially considered to live in poverty and many could be lifted out of it if they claimed everything to which they are entitled.
Experts at Newcastle University will study whether helping them to make claims has an impact on their wellbeing.
In an earlier small-scale study carried out in the North East, 68 of 126 participants received some sort of extra welfare as a result of advice, with the average increase around £55 a week.
Professor Martin White, Professor of Public Health at Newcastle University, who is leading the new study, said: "We found many of the older people in our previous study were finding it difficult to make ends meet. Added to this, many were living in poor health or caring for a chronically ill relative.
"Additional income makes their lives easier, and could make a real difference to their health."
The new trial will be bigger and will look at whether there are any health benefits from the extra money.
Recruitment will be through doctors' surgeries and letters will be sent out to those eligible to take part in the next few weeks.
Participants will be helped in their own home by an experienced benefits advisor and support with form-filling will be given.
Prof White added: "We've previously shown that many older people don't know which benefits they can claim or even where or how to access advice. The intervention is simple but effective in helping older people claim the benefits they're entitled to."
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