State pension alert as changes may impact free bus pass and free prescriptions | Personal Finance | Finance

For many, reaching state pension age not only signals a departure from the workforce, but also entitlement to support. Certain benefits like Pension Credit and Attendance Allowance are only made available to those over state pension age.

However, many older people value so-called ‘freebie’ help like a free bus pass and free prescriptions. 

The changes to state pension age signalling a potential delay in retirement might not be the only issue older individuals have to face.

This is because a state pension age change may impact when a person can get a free bus pass, or free prescriptions.

At present, there is an ongoing consultation as to whether the free prescription age should be aligned to the state pension age.

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Currently, people in England can expect to receive a free prescription at the age of 60, while those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland get it free regardless of age.

However, the consultation – which is yet to feedback on its results – may mean Britons have to wait even longer to get a prescription without charge.

If this were to go ahead, it would potentially mean millions of Britons would be hit with at least a £9.35 per item charge, unless they were exempt in some other way.

Previously, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told “Around 90 percent of community prescriptions in England are free of charge, and people don’t pay if they are on a low income, over 60, or have certain medical conditions.

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“The upper age exemption has not changed since 1995 and that is why we have consulted on restoring the link between this and the state pension age. 

“No final decisions have been made and we will publish the consultation response in due course.”

Entitlement to a free bus pass may also be impacted by state pension age changes in certain parts of the UK.

People in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and London typically only have to wait until the age of 60 for a free bus pass.

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However, in most parts of England, the free bus pass entitlement is tied to the state pension age.

With the state pension age rising, those living in England are likely to have to wait longer for this entitlement.

As a result, this could substantially curb the ability for people to travel without cost.

In May 2022, the Government announced a freeze on the cost of an NHS prescription for the first time in over a decade.

Charges usually increase in line with average inflation, but this was avoided to help people with the cost of living crisis.

However, there has been speculation the price could rise again this coming April.

New research from Chemist4U has estimated prescription charges could rise to £12.98 per item by 2025, with the data based on the rate of previous increases to charges.

In 2011, figures showed the average prescription cost came to £7.40 per item in England.

Considering this, it means prescription costs have risen by some 26.4 percent in the space of 10 years.

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