Benefits while in the UK
With the compliments of British Age Pensioner Alliance

 

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People who are planning a visit to the UK have asked what benefits they get while there. Such benefits as travel, health and medical, seniors' discounts and such.

Here is an edited version of an email sent to an enquirer who wanted to know about bus passes etc, and especially benefits for a wife who has an Australian disability pension. The writer lives in the UK.

I don't think there is anything like a "pensioner concession card" in existence in the UK; there were in the past but they appear to have been phased out by now.

If you have any official government paperwork from Australia I would advise that you bring it along to demonstrate, for example, that you are both over 65 and pensioners and that your wife is disabled.

I think that if you have a disabled parking permit, it should be recognised in the UK, so bring it along too. MY wife is disabled and we have used her UK disabled blue badge in the EU and in Australia. It will help with parking and often free parking for disabled, but not always. Some councils charge everyone to park.

There is a free bus pass for pensioners and disabled people, however you have to demonstrate that you are a resident of the UK in order to qualify. For example, you may need to produce a utility bill with your UK address on it. So you will probably not be able to do that.

There is a concession rail card that you may be able to access (giving one third off prices in off-peak periods) but you need to have either a UK Drivers Licence number or a UK Passport number to quote. You can apply on line and pay by debit or credit card (around 28.00). You can see more details at this website:

http://www.senior-railcard.co.uk/are-you-eligible/eligibility

It might be advisable to quote a UK address if you can, for the postage of the card, if you go down that route.

You can often obtain cheap train fares by using this website:

http://www.thetrainline.com/

By booking one, two or more weeks ahead you can get some very good fares - I once got a single London to Birmingham for 5.00 and a return trip for 7.50 for the same day where the normal price would have been closer to 50.00 return. However, you have to book well ahead to access the cheaper seats and you may have to travel on a specific day and at a specific time on a specific train to access these cheap fares.

Otherwise, you may well be able to get some things cheaper by simply asking whether they have a discount for pensioners or a discount for seniors. I once automatically got a cheaper fare on a hovercraft simply because I looked like I was over 60 - without even asking.

If you want you can usually get cheap coach travel through National Express who often advertise fares between large towns at 10.00 one way - say London to Edinburgh, etc.

http://www.senior-railcard.co.uk/are-you-eligible/eligibility

They appear to have a seniors coach card for 33% off if you are over 60 - there does not appear to be any residency requirement, as far as I can see.

There is still a UK/Australia reciprocal health agreement in place meaning that you can get access to the NHS for emergency health care. If you have a UK passport you may be able to get free access to the NHS for non-emergency treatment depending on who you see at the time.

Almost all museums and art galleries, etc. have free entry these days but you may have to pay to see special exhibitions within the museum, etc. Always ask for discount for seniors.

Also, many places have a special low price for disabled visitors and often the carer goes free. My wife and I use this to visit the theatre in London, Art Galleries, Cinema, etc. so that may well be your best route - your wife gets in as disabled and you go for free as the carer or cheaper as a senior. Some places ask for evidence (paperwork, letters from Centrelink, etc.) that you are disabled, although now that my wife often uses a wheelchair, they often don't insist on the evidence as they can see she is disabled.

With the compliments of British Age Pensioner Alliance