Yvonne Fovargue MP: So many not claiming Pension Credit

Take up rates for Pension Credit are worrying and I agree it is wrong that many pensioners are not getting what they are entitled to.

Thursday, 8th October 2020, 12:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th October 2020, 12:34 pm
Yvonne Fovargue MP

The charity Independent Age have contributed some excellent work in highlighting this issue.

The Government’s own figures show that in 2017-18, up to £2.5 billion of available Pension Credit went unclaimed. On average, this equated to around £2,000 per year for each family entitled to receive Pension Credit but not claiming it.

More than 1,920 households in Makerfield who are entitled to Pension Credit do not receive the benefit, missing out on a total of £3.4 million.

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Pension Credit is designed to keep the least well-off pensioners out of poverty.

Currently, just six in 10 (61%) of people who are entitled to this payment are receiving it – leaving many forced to choose between heating and eating.

It is important that Pension Credit is paid and that the people who deserve it get it. It is important for a number of reasons – such as in paying for transport costs, for those in private rented accommodation, and as a gateway to accessing other social security payments – and to ensure that all pensioners get the security and dignity they deserve.

Earlier this year, a campaign was launched to raise awareness of Pension Credit and encourage those over State Pension age to check their eligibility.

The Government advised it would carry out a full evaluation of the campaign to measure the effectiveness and impact of it, however, the results are not yet available.

Independents Age’s report provides clear evidence that ensuring Pension Credit is delivered to those who need it is not only the right thing to do for those pensioners, but also the right thing to do for taxpayers.

The knock-on effects on the NHS and care systems are costing taxpayers £6.7 million in Makerfield alone.

Taxpayers are unnecessarily footing the bill when it would be significantly less expensive to simply ensure people receive the Pension Credit to which they are entitled.

The Government’s action plan needs to include a fresh look at roles and responsibilities relating to Pension Credit, putting a stop to blaming older people for this problem.

Last week, Parliament discussed the uprating of the basic state pension, the new state pension, the standard minimum guarantee in pension credit, and widows’ and widowers’ benefits in industrial death benefit.

I welcome that the Government said it wanted the Bill to pass “to meet its commitment to the Triple Lock.”

Everyone deserves financial security in retirement, and the cornerstone of that is a decent state pension.

More widely, I think it is important to acknowledge that the UK state pension is relatively low by international standards. A third of private tenants and 29% of social tenants in retirement are in poverty.

In addition, the Government needs to consider what this pandemic means for those 1950s women affected by the equalisation of the state pension age, and whether there is the opportunity to bring forward more support for them.