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Virgin Money has joined forces with national poverty charity Turn2us to help people across the UK make sure they are not missing out on benefits they are entitled to.

The charity’s free, easy to use and anonymous calculator is available via Virgin Money’s website and takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

The launch of the calculator on Virgin Money’s website follows analysis of the most recent Government statistics by national older people’s charity Independent Age which revealed that in 2019/2020 up to 850,000 pensioner households entitled to Pension Credit missed out on up to £1.7 billion of money1.

Fergus Murphy, Customer Experience Officer at Virgin Money, said: “These are especially tough times, and we know that some of our customers may be struggling on low incomes but missing out on extra income because they haven’t received benefits they are entitled to.

“Independent Age’s analysis clearly demonstrates how the over 65s are missing out, but we know that this is an issue which affects all age groups. It’s not always easy to find out which benefits you might be entitled to but Turn2us’s calculator is now on our website and not only is it free, it takes less than ten minutes to use and is completely anonymous.”

Michael Clarke, Head of Information Programmes at Turn2us, said: “As the financial impact of the pandemic continues to hit people’s incomes it is vital that people find out what other support they can access. Millions of us are currently missing out on thousands of pounds worth of unclaimed benefits, that is why we’re hugely grateful to Virgin Money for embedding our benefits calculator onto their website so more people can make sure they are not missing out.”

Yvonne DeBurgo, 76, from Oxfordshire previously worked as a receptionist and retired at 60. Yvonne started to receive Pension Credit five years ago. Before that, she was living on a very low income and struggled to make ends meet.

She says: “Before receiving Pension Credit I was scrimping and scraping. I thought it would be this way for the rest of my life, it was a bleak future. In the winter, I couldn’t afford to put the heating on so would sit wrapped up in clothes but my bungalow was still really cold.

“Friends would invite me out for coffee, but I couldn’t afford to pay for a drink in a café so I wouldn’t go. I couldn’t afford new clothing and essentials like underwear, so I had to make do with old clothes.

“Pension Credit has been amazing and made a huge difference to me. I can have the heating on, I can go out for coffee and socialise with friends again which has made a huge difference to my mental health - I feel less isolated and alone now.”

Morgan Vine, Head of Policy and Influencing, Independent Age, said: “Our Independent Age advice team regularly hear from people who are wearing coats inside so they can turn the heating off, or are skipping meals to save money. Yet the most recent Government statistics on Pension Credit – a benefit for older people living on a low income - show that too many older people who are eligible for this vital support still miss out. We want more people to receive the money they are entitled to and a benefit calculator is a great way to inform people what they might be entitled to.

“Our own research worryingly revealed that two in five (40%) pensioners spent at least one year of the last decade in poverty, and social benefit income is vital in moving out of poverty past retirement age2. Pension Credit has the potential to lift 400,000 older people out of poverty3, and we will continue campaigning for the Government to ensure this money is received by everyone entitled to it.”

Virgin Money’s Fergus Murphy added: “We believe in brighter money for everyone, and Virgin Money has pledged to eliminate the Poverty Premium – the overspend on essential services by low-income households – among its customers by 2030. By addressing barriers and increasing customer choice we are hopeful we can help more customers avoid the Poverty Premium.”

1 Statistics released by DWP

2 Poverty in later life report by Independent Age

3 Research by Loughborough University commissioned by Independent Age

The Turn2us Benefits Calculator, which is a recommended independent calculator listed on the Government’s website, has been used more than two million times in the last year, helping people claim thousands of pounds of extra income and can be found on Virgin Money’s website: Turn2Us Benefits Calculator | Virgin Money UK Link opens in a new window