By Gemma Shaw
The Scottish Government has announced a new service to help elderly people receive advice on claiming the benefits that they are entitled to, through face-to-face visits.
According to the Scottish Government, the Older People’s Advice Service, concentrating on less mobile pensioners in deprived areas, ‘could benefit up to 22,000 people’. The scheme is targeting poverty-stricken areas in Clackmannanshire, West Lothian and North Lanarkshire, and is aiming to help the ill, immobile, and those living in remote areas.
Backed with £700,000 of Scottish government money, a repeat of the successes of the scheme’s predecessor, the Older Persons Advice Project, is expected. OPAP increased benefits received by the elderly by over £2 million.
The OPAS service, based on home visits, has been designed for those who do not have internet access and do not like to discuss their financial details over the telephone, but may pose further problems. A recent episode of Tonight With Trevor McDonald highlighted the risk of theft which elderly people are exposed to when they allow civil servants into their homes.
This could brand OPAS ineffective, due to the increased wariness of strangers encouraged in pensioners.