Stoke on Trent
Information and Advice for
People Aged 50+
Feedback from Members of the
Stoke on Trent Fifty+ Forum, 18 Feb 2011
Stoke on Trent Fifty+ Forum
18 February 2011
Fenton Community Centre
Group discussion session with 103 members of the Stoke on Trent Fifty+ Forum: guest
speaker, Neil Holloway, Senior Information & Advice Officer, Age UK North Staffs.
Discussion question: how do we make people aware of what
their entitlement is?
Get information out to as many people as possible – but enable people to
make contact in a way that doesn’t ‘advertise their business’.
Advertise to the public so people can share information.
Make the information easily accessible.
More publicity generally.
Advertising via Community Services
Advertise via GP’s.
Link advice – GP’s should direct people to advisory agencies.
GP’s should let people know what they are entitled to.
At hospitals & doctor’s waiting rooms – safe places.
GP surgeries etc for people who are ill and have to claim more money due
to a change of circumstance.
Have leaflets at libraries, GP’s.
Leave flyers at libraries, on community centre notice boards, GP’s and at
More advertising via day centres.
Advertise at bus stops and on the bus.
Share information through trained home-visitors.
Target GP’s and health centres.
Advertising via Local/National Media
There should be alternatives to accessing the internet for information.
More advertising via the media – radio, paper, TV etc.
Advertise through the media – make it more obvious.
Advertise through various media.
More media information.
Advertise via Radio Stoke and Signal Radio.
Advertise in free newspapers.
Use mail slots like ‘Our City’.
Have awareness campaigns locally.
National TV campaigns, letter from DWP – increase correspondence about
Publicise through the TV.
Department for Work and Pensions
On retirement – pack about entitlement from DWP - good practice for larger
There should be a leaflet in your annual pension statement about where to
Have a texting service available to contact DWP and they can call back.
Engaging with the Community/Word-of-Mouth
Word of mouth – tell people.
Talk to people – word-of-mouth.
Share information through word-of-mouth.
Need more information word-of-mouth – pass it on.
Share the information via word-of-mouth.
Engage with community groups for information sharing.
Visit older people’s community clubs.
Visit resident associations.
Visit community groups and faith groups.
Organisations should visit groups to let them know what’s available.
Face-to-face advice is better – but services are too busy – will this get worse
with the cuts?
More face-to-face communication.
Share information at forums and community meetings.
Give out information via family members.
Advertise through trusted networks such as neighbours.
Leaflets posted through letterboxes.
Leaflets should be posted through people’s doors.
Too much junk mail – you don’t see or keep the important stuff.
One-Stop-Shop Information Points
Have benefits folders at various access points informing people of their
One-stop-shop for information.
There is no direct route for information – make it direct!
Have accessible centres for people to visit – information and help via a
variety of agencies.
Have easy access to information in community centres such as holding
Have mobile benefits office – one-to-one.
Make people more aware of the local offices you can call in at.
Face-to-face communication is best – not speaking on the phone.
Don’t listen to the ‘experts’ in the pub – consult information and advice
More people should be aware of Age UK – it is very good.
Through CAB & Age UK.
At the CAB and Age UK Hanley.
Remove the automated telephone service, telephone options are difficult
for those with hearing difficulties.
Speak slowly and clearly to people on the telephone.
Have local call centres please.
Offer information through different languages/translators.
Give information to the family who can translate letters etc.
Translate information into Punjabi and advertise in Punjabi & Gujarati
The information is presented in written and verbal language – present the
information in other mediums such as via a video which is translated into
User-Friendly Information, Leaflets and Forms
Make it simpler (v. difficult at present).
Produce correct, easy to read information booklets.
Have simplified forms – no jargon, in plain language and have large print.
Reduce forms and make them simpler.
Simplify the forms! Make it less daunting.
There is too much bureaucracy – remove it.
Forms must be simplified.
Discussion question: what barriers prevent older people
claiming benefits and how may these barriers be overcome?
People who still have family living at home are precluded from applying for
Penalised from claiming benefits because you have make provisions in
Government cut-backs/change of government.
People in this group did not know about Age UK.
Do not know where who/where to go.
People don’t know who to ask for help.
You have to find out yourself - you are not told.
People who are directed to web-sites may not have the access.
Not knowing where/how to get the information.
Can’t get to CAB
Lack of confidence to ask.
People are afraid to start the ball rolling.
Lack of confidence to challenge decisions.
Don’t always take no for an answer.
Living on your own/isolated and lack of confidence.
Being a carer is a barrier.
Embarrassing to ask.
People are embarrassed of their need – pride.
People feel there is a stigma attached to claiming.
Queuing is not dignifying.
I had to wait two hours to be seen.
You think it doesn’t apply to you.
You are made to feel like a criminal if you have made a mistake.
People don’t want to accept money.
People can feel insulted/degraded by the questions when completing
People have learned to cope without help and be independent.
Filling in forms is an issue.
It is hard to understand the forms.
Filling in forms are a barrier.
Languages – different languages needed.
Worries that the government etc will know what money you have coming in.
People feel there is intrusion and a feeling of invasion of privacy.
Can you trust people to come into your home? There is no consistency who
can visit you with advice.
Providing Appropriate Information and Advice
Lack of information!!
Lack of information.
People don’t know if they qualify.
Lack of knowledge.
Ignorance of the system.
Benefit agencies restrict information to the issue the asking you asking about.
People get confused – the wrong information is given from different people.
Didn’t think you could get any benefits because you live on your own.
Ignorance of what benefits you are entitled to.
Ignorance – this would be overcome by the right people talking to you
No explanation that benefits are not a charity, but entitlement is due
because of their long life contribution.
Lack of understanding regarding accumulated savings.
No one tells you, so you feel that you are not entitled.
‘Don’t know what you don’t know’.
People do not think they have to be paid to look after relations.
Don’t know about the acceptable level of savings.
Difficulties with the potential of paying for care.
People are not sure at what age they can claim.
Confusion over increase in age you can claim.
Difficulty when telephoning benefits agency-pressing buttons, unhelpful
Overseas call centres are a barrier.
User-friendly and Clear Information
DWP information isn’t clear enough – it is too confusing and hard to
Information is too complex to understand at present.
Use plain English – literature is full of jargon.
Difficulty in accessing information – correct information should be provided
in simple terms.
Have consistency – not inaccurate, incomplete information.
Questions from Forum Members:
Bequests – do they make a difference to pension credit?
Clarify – carers allowance not applicable to those on a pension – why? Isn’t
it classed as an overlapping benefit?
If there is no limit on capital why are more people getting it?
Why are people who have never worked on more benefits in retirement as
to those people who have?
A few years ago a groups of us tried to get a council tax reduction but were
unsuccessful. (We live by a school and suffer from traffic problems). Where
could get advice?
Why have people with private pensions missed out in the past on loft
Stoke on Trent Fifty+ Forum
83 – 85 Trinity Street
Stoke on Trent
T: 01782 200736
F: 01782 209099