Mark Whitehead 23 May 2018

Charity warns councils are depriving four million older people of benefits

Charity warns councils are depriving four million older people of benefits image

Nearly four million older people are being denied access to key benefits because they do not use computers, according to campaigners.

Age UK says a 'mystery shopper' survey found more than four in ten councils said housing benefit and council tax reduction could only be claimed online.

The charity's report, Everything is Online Nowadays, says most councils 'pushed people towards claiming via the internet, even when it was clear they were not themselves computer users'.

The survey found one in seven councils would only accept online claims and did not offer a face-to-face service to help people who had never used the internet.

Age UK says councils should ensure that everyone can access their services and offer offline options so that people who are not online can still claim vital benefits.

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: 'It is totally unacceptable that millions of older people who are not online are effectively being screened out of accessing benefits to which they are legally entitled, and often badly need, because they cannot use the online application methods that are increasingly the default.

'Age UK is fully aware of the intense financial pressures on councils, but this can be no excuse for working in ways that risk depriving older people of their due.'

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