It is known that, in general, people of pensionable age have gained in income compared to other age groups in the British population over the last two decades, but that a substantial minority still experience relative poverty. This paper reports a small qualitative study into the effectiveness of a welfare-rights advice and acquisition service for men and women aged 60 or more years that was provided through a local primary health-care service. Additional financial and non-financial resources were obtained by accessing previously unclaimed state-welfare benefits. It was found that these significantly improved the participants' quality of life. Fourteen of the 25 participants received some type of financial award as a result of the service offered, with the median income gain being £57 (€84 or US $101) per week. The impact of additional resources was considerable and included: increased affordability of necessities and occasional expenses; increased capacity to cope with emergencies; and reduced stress related to financial worries. Knowledge of and access to welfare-rights services also appeared to have a positive effect. It is argued that a level of material resources above a basic level is necessary for social relations and for accessing services and civic activities, and can reduce social exclusion among older people.
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