Can’t give money away in Honiton

Charity has vacancies for pensions for the first time in 450 years.

Times may be tough but a Honiton charity is struggling to give money away - because pensioners are too proud to ask for it.

Honiton United Charities, which distributes quarterly pensions to elderly residents in the town, has 10 vacancies and no waiting list for the first time in its 450-year-old history.

Paula Land, of Everys solicitors, has been the trustees’ steward for 20 years and told the Midweek Herald: “It is a shame, because the money is there to benefit the people of Honiton.

“I think people are too proud to apply.”

Councillor Vernon Whitlock, the Mayor of Honiton, said he feared many elderly residents come from a generation that frowned upon charity. But he is urging people to apply for the pensions.

“You are entitled,” he said.

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Honiton United Charities is made up of a number of small charities, the earliest dating back to 1524.

The charities were set up in memory of Sir John Acland, Thomas Marwood and the Beaumont family, to name but a few.

“We originally paid pensions to 120 pensioners,” said Paula. “In the early days of my stewardship, it was always the case that the pension list was full and we had a waiting list.

“Seldom do we have a waiting list now. We reduced the number of pensions to 100 and paid those 100 people enhanced pensions.

“More recently, we’ve had trouble finding 100 pensioners to give the money to.

“We have 10 vacancies and we would like to fill them and give a little extra help, particularly with the tough financial times we are going through at the moment.”

The pensions, which can sometimes include a Christmas bonus, are paid out by Paula at the Senior Citizens’ Centre on the first Saturday in February, May, August and November.

Married couples can expect to receive �15 a quarter and single pensioners �10.

There is no set criteria for who is eligible, but applicants must provide basic details of income and savings. The most needly are more likely to receive a pension first, with others going on a waiting list.

Application forms are available from Everys, in New Street.