Are you one of 3.4 million disabled over-65s missing out on up to £4,500/year to help with care?
Are you missing out on £4,500/yr to help with care?, why you’ll soon have less to spend in your bank account, last chance to get a letter from Santa, £10-£40 London theatre tickets and £5 Amex cashback. These are our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis’ Deals of the Week.
Remember, deals can change quickly, even while I’m on the programme. So always double-check the terms and conditions before spending. Plus, while I hope these deals will save you cash, don’t spend if you can’t afford it, don’t need it, or won’t use it.
Are you one of 3.4m disabled over-65s missing out on up to £4,500/yr to help with care?
There are 6.4m people in the UK who are eligible for Attendance Allowance according to charity Turn2us, yet only 3m claim it, meaning 3.4m are missing out. This is a cash benefit worth up to £4,500 a year. To get it you need to…
- Reached state pension age – currently aged 65 for all men and only for women born on or after6 April 1950, or aged 60 for women born before 6 April 1950 (state pension age is rising to 66 for some by April 2020).
- Need assistance with care – due to mental or physical disability or terminal illness. The need must be severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself (such as getting dressed or going to the toilet).
- You must have needed that help for at least six consecutive months.
- It doesn't matter if no one actually helps you, it’s the need that counts.
- The allowance isn’t means-tested.
The allowance is either £58.70/week - for those who require care during the day OR night or £87.65/week - for those who require care during the day AND night, or are terminally ill.
In England, Scotland or Wales, to claim you’ll need to fill in this Attendance Allowance Form from the Gov site detailing your illness, if you’re getting any care, any medication you’re on and any specialists you’ve seen or call the helpline on 0800 731 0122. If you’re in Northern Ireland you’ll need to fill this form from the NI Gov website or call 0800 587 0912. If the assessors can't get a clear picture of how your illnesses or disabilities affect you, they may ask a healthcare professional to examine you. You will be contacted if this is the case.
Typically, claiming attendance allowance won't reduce any other benefits you receive, but it’s best to check first. And if you need help in making a claim or deciding what benefits you're entitled to, you can contact your local Age UK or Citizens Advice office.
If successful, your allowance will be backdated to the date your completed form was received or the date you called the helpline. Plus if you get it you could also be eligible for pension credit, housing benefit or a council tax reduction which could mean extra cash back to you.
Why is there less money available in your bank account?
Currently, many banks include your permitted arranged overdraft when showing you your 'available balance' – so if you have £100 in your account but also have an arranged overdraft facility for £500, your available balance will appear as £600.
But from Wednesday 18 December, new rules from the regulator Financial Conduct Authority will ban banks from doing this. So in this example above, your available balance will appear as £100 instead – and if you went into your overdraft, you'd see a negative number. This is to help people understand and engage more with their overdrafts, making it clearer that overdrafts are a debt – not a bad thing in my opinion.
HSBC, First Direct and M&S Bank have all recently made the change, and while they wrote to people it sparked confusion – with some thinking they’d lost money. So I wanted to flag it up. Expect Santander, Halifax, Lloyds, Metro and TSB to do it soon to meet the 18 Dec deadline.
Barclays, the Co-op Bank, Monzo and Nationwide already exclude overdrafts from customers' available balances – so you won't notice any change going forward.
PS HSBC announced yesterday that from 14 March it’s hiking its arranged overdraft fees on all its accounts to 39.9% EAR (currently ranges from 10-20%). There’ll be a fee-free £25 buffer on some accounts, but if you go over you’ll be worse off. So if that’s you see if you can switch current accounts to one that charges less. See Martin’s full ‘Best bank accounts for overdrafts’ guide for full options. It’s also scrapping the £5 daily charge on unarranged fees and capping the interest at £20 a month (it’s currently £80).
£10 - £40 London theatre tickets: If you’ve got a Mastercard, you can go online to Priceless.com from 10am tomorrow morning (Friday 6 December) and get access to priority booking for cheap theatre tickets costing between £10 - £40, for 50 shows including The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, Matilda, The Snowman, and Disney's The Lion King, for performances from 1 Jan 2020 to 13 Feb 2020. You’ll need to pay for the tickets using your Mastercard.
If you don’t have a Mastercard – then this discount opens up to you on 10am next Friday (13 December). There’s around 135,000 tickets available in total, and last year thousands were sold in the first day of the general sale, so go quick if you want a show in particular. Tickets for specific performances are limited, so it could be pot luck finding the show you want on a particular date.
Amex cardholders get £5 cashback at 1,000s of local shops. If you’ve an American Express card, from Saturday (7 December) till Sunday 22 December, you can get £5 cashback when you spend £10 or more at selected local businesses including restaurants, clothes shops, hotels, hairdressers and galleries. To get it you first need to register your Amex with the Shop Small website, then when you spend at least £10 there you’ll receive £5 statement credit within 5 days (can take up to 8 weeks). You can only get the £5 cashback once in each store, but you can use this offer up to 10 times, so a maximum of £50 back on your shopping.
Last Chance to get a free letter from Santa for your kids: If your child writes a letter which includes their name and address, to Santa/Father Christmas, Santa's Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ by tomorrow Friday 6 December (don’t forget to put a stamp on it – you might want to put a first class stamp), then Santa’s elves stationed at Royal Mail will get Santa to send a personally addressed letter to your child before Christmas Eve. Just a warning though, even though more elves are working hard (so there shouldn’t be any issues like previous years), Royal Mail says Santa can'tguarantee a reply, so while this is a nice freebie, it's not a definite freebie.