Hundreds of pensioners are losing out on help to pay their council tax in Worcester.

Low-income households and pensioners in England can apply for a discount or exemption under the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

In Worcester, 2,429 pensioners were claiming support in the three months to December, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show. That was an 18% drop compared to the same period in 2015, meaning 542 fewer people were receiving the help.

The scheme replaced the nationally-administered Council Tax Benefit in 2013, giving individual local authorities the power to decide who is eligible for support and what discounts to offer.

But Turn2us, a charity which helps people in financial hardship, says vulnerable households are struggling to navigate an increasingly complex and confusing system.

Campaigns manager Varuk Kanish said: “The localisation of Council Tax Support schemes has increased the complexity of an already confusing system, resulting in more people missing out.

"We urge the Government to review this system and consider automatic entitlement for people who are struggling.”

He added that a move towards online services may be impacting older people.

The Government says it has protected pensioners, and that they continue to receive the same level of support as under the previous system.

But there were 310,000 fewer pensioners claiming support in England last year than in 2015 – a 17% drop – the official figures show.