Charity Awards 2024

East End Community Foundation

Funding local groups to help older people to claim all their benefits

The needs of older people in disadvantaged communities are often overlooked. This is nowhere truer than in the east end of London, where 44% of older residents of Tower Hamlets live in income-deprived households, alongside 41% in Hackney and 37% in Newham – the highest levels in the UK. Furthermore, each year £32m of the government’s Pension Credits benefit goes unclaimed.

East End Community FoundationLife Chances is East End Community Foundation’s (EECF) collective giving campaign that encourages collaboration across the private and public sectors, and grassroots charitable organisations, to tackle specific social issues in the east end. The Tackling Pensioner Poverty strand of Life Chances was designed to focus on raising pensioner income to lift older people out of poverty.

Before launch, EECF began by gauging the appetite of potential grant recipients and donors through roundtable discussions and one-to-one meetings. Tower Hamlets Council were also engaged, and produced a Pension Credits uptake ‘heatmap’ that enabled groups to target
their approach.

The insights resulted in the formulation of a two-pronged approach: advice to improve take-up of benefits; and improving digital skills. Meetings with potential donors emphasised the need for a three-year funding commitment, operating an initial one-year pilot in Tower Hamlets. EECF identified a budget of just over £80,000 for this.

With funding secured, three local community groups were awarded grants of up to £20,000 for staff and overhead costs and were provided with specialist advice training. Direct project delivery commenced in January 2023.

Since then, more than 150 older people have been provided with benefits advice, helping them to secure over £400,000 of previously unclaimed welfare benefits – a return on investment of 4:1, and a total uprate of £3m if the claimants continue claiming for 10 years.

The digital literacy programme has supported 136 people and is on target to reach 270.

The success of the scheme has resulted in an increase in funding, enabling EECF to increase the grant budget to £100,000 and extend the scheme to the London borough of Newham.

Charity Awards judge Sharika Sharma, head of business development at CCLA, said the EECF was tackling the very serious problem of pensioner poverty with a project that would have a lasting social benefit for those affected.

Daniel Chan, senior manager at PwC, commended the targeting of a specific, underserved group, the impressive return on investment and the innovation in the idea.

CC Reg no. 1147789

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