Thousands of retired Brits could be eligible for a state pension top-up worth more than £200 a month.

Charity Independent Age claims a whopping 450,000 elderly people are still missing out on the credit.

It said 61% of eligible households currently claim the support, while almost half could be entitled to the additional help.

Pension credit can be used to top up your income if you're single or earn below £173.75 or a couple with less than £265.20 a week.

According to Government figures, the average weekly amount of pension credit is £58 – or more than £3,000 a year.

However, a report said the low take-up creates significant knock-on effects for the NHS and social care.

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Elderly people might not be aware that they're entitled to the benefits
Elderly people might not be aware that they're entitled to the benefits

Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Independent Age, says urgent action is needed for people claiming pension credit.

She said: "What we can see from this report is that ensuring the poorest pensioners have a liveable income is not only the right thing to do, it's the economically responsible thing to do.

"Taxpayers are unnecessarily footing a health and social care bill of an estimated £4billion, when if the Government ensured older people received the £2.2billion to which they're entitled, many of these additional costs to our health and care systems would be alleviated.

"A take-up rate of 61% for a benefit designed to keep older people out of poverty is indefensible – and this rate has stayed stagnant for a decade.

"Without this money, many people are prevented from living with dignity and having a social, well-connected later life."

The income will help those struggling with money
The income will help those struggling with money

She continued: "The Government needs to urgently create an action plan that contains high quality, up-to-date research into who is not claiming pension credit and why they are not receiving it."

Meanwhile, SNP MP Neil Gray has urged the Department for Work and Pensions to follow the Scottish Government's lead by launching a UK-wide benefit take-up campaign.

He said: "Pensioners across Scotland and the UK are facing greater health and economic challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic and it is vital the UK Government does all that it can to protect our pensioners and ensure they are not left behind.

"The DWP must look to Scotland and follow the Scottish Government's lead in setting out a strategy intended to raise awareness of Scottish benefits, and to ensure that people are receiving what they're entitled to.

"I urge the UK Government to take heed of the findings published by Independent Age and to launch a UK-wide benefit take-up campaign so people are encouraged to get the help they are entitled to – particularly pension credit."

A DWP spokesman said: "We want to make sure that all older people receive the support they are entitled to and earlier this year we ran a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of pension credit, also dispelling some myths people might hold.

"Having savings, a pension or owning a home are not necessarily barriers to receiving pension credit and even a small award of pension credit can provide access to a wide range of other benefits.

"We would encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible for pension credit to visit gov.uk/pension-credit.

"It only takes a few minutes to get an indication of how much they could get using the online pension credit calculator and a claim can be made online or by calling the free claim line."

Visit the Gov.UK website for more information, or call Pension Service on 0800 99 1234.