The Benefits of Growing Older - concessions, discounts and
special offers - Public Benefits
The State Pension
The most obvious public sector benefit is probably the State
retirement pension that currently starts at 65 for men. The women's state pension age is gradually rising from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2018 and then, in line with the men's age, from 65 to 66 between 2018 and 2020. Your state pension will probably consist of the basic pension
plus some of what used to be called the State Earnings Related
Pension Scheme (SERPS) and is now known as the State Second
Pension (S2P). The amount of SERPS, or S2P, will depend on how
much you have earned and for how long you have been contracted
in or out of SERPS/S2P. Therefore it is extremely difficult to know how
much you might get. To receive a forecast, you can request one
on-line, download a form from the Pension Service website or
telephone for one. Go to the Pension Service website (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/about-dwp/customer-delivery/the-pension-service/) to find the details.
You may apply for a forecast providing you are more than 10 days
away from retirement. You may even receive one through the post
without even asking – they do seem to be more pro-active these
days and certainly some people get one unsolicited.
Pension Credit guarantees everyone an income of at least £137.35
for a single person and £209.70 for people who live with a partner. (These are
the 2011-12 figures). It replaces the Minimum Income Guarantee.
Again, the Pension Service website will give you more details on
how to apply.
Other State Benefits
There is a wide variety of other state benefits that might be
available to you, depending on your circumstances. Go to the
Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) website (www.dwp.gov.uk ) and
the Pension Service one to discover more about these. There is
also a very user-friendly website called
will be of help to you.
Once you have reached the age at which women receive their state pension (currently rising from 60 to 65 from 2010 to 2018), you will receive the £250 per annum Government
Heating Allowance. It is currently £250 per household and if you
live with a partner, once the first one has reached the qualifying age, he
or she will receive the £250. When the other partner also
reaches 60 you both get £125. There is a cut-off date in the first year in which you receive it which is effectively the 6th September. This is because women who qualify for the state pension in any one year will start to receive it on the 6th of an odd month, depending on their date of birth. The 6th November doesn't count because it's too close to the date when the heating allowance is actually paid, therefore one person in the household has to have reached the age at which women are eligible to receive the state pension on the 6th September or before. If you reach 80 years old bfore the 26th September you will receive £400.
The first year that you are eligible for heating allowance, you have to apply for it. Henceforth, it should come automatically and you will be informed when it is about to be paid into your bank account.
There are more details on
https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/heating 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.
On the heating theme, there is a Government initiative called
Warm Front that provides a package of home insulation and
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
£3,500 (or up to £6,000 if your home needs oil central heating) 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 £6,000
- the maximum amount of the grant.
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
There are other links on the ‘entitledto’ web site that may also
help you. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau is also a good source of
Once 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
For more details on prescriptions and eye tests, visit
Everyone 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.
From 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. More recently the age at which you qualify for free off-peak travel has risen from 60 to the age at which women receive their state pension.
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
In Scotland everyone over the women's state pension ageis 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
In England and Wales, if you’re over the women's state pension age, 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
In Scotland, if you’re over the state pension age for women, 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 the women's state pension age 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
Local Authority Facilities
Remember that many local authority facilities are cheaper for
people over the state pension age for women. 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
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.
To remind yourself of how to help us with this section, go
back to our introductory pages at
Discounts and Special Offers to look at what's available in
the private sector, go to
Concessions, Discounts and Special Offers - Private Sector.
This Guide to Concessions and Discounts is written by Retirement
Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team. As well as
writing on retirement matters Dave is Training Director at LaterLife and
responsible for the content and continuous improvement of LaterLife's Retirement
section here on laterlife or our
dedicated Retirement Courses site