BARNSLEY Council is encouraging pensioners to claim all the benefits they're entitled to after it emerged that over a million older people nationally are missing out.

The latest government figures show that between 1.2million and 1.6million pensioners are failing to claim pension credit - worth around £2billion per year.

Pension credit is a means-tested benefit aimed at topping up retirement pensions if the government deem that someone hasn’t enough to live on.

The average amount going unclaimed by pensioners is about £33 per week, or £1,716 per year.

Cllr Alan Gardiner, cabinet spokesperson for corporate services, said: "There will no doubt be hundreds, maybe thousands of pensioners in the borough worrying about heating their houses this winter.

"This money could make all the difference. The Welfare Rights Service provides free help and advice, and anyone who wants more information on pension credit or who need help with the claim process should contact them straight away.

"Even if you don’t qualify for pension credit they may be able to identify other benefits that you’re missing out on."

For residents living in Barnsley, the Welfare Rights Service can be contacted on 01226 772360. Lines are open during normal office hours.