Shocking cost to borough of pensioners not claiming full benefits entitlement

Older people’s charity Independent Age has revealed the enormous cost to the NHS and social care services of thousands of local households not claiming Pension Credit.
Pension Credit not being claimed is costing the borough almost £22mPension Credit not being claimed is costing the borough almost £22m
Pension Credit not being claimed is costing the borough almost £22m

The figures show non-take up of the benefit has a cost of £8m in Wigan, £7.2m in Leigh and £6.7m in Makerfield.

That makes a borough total of just under £22m.

Across the borough more than 6,000 households are thought to be missing out on Pension Credit, with around £11m of the benefit not being claimed each year which could be.

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Pension Credit is designed to help keep older people out of poverty, but currently it is thought just over 60 per cent of those eligible are claiming it.

A borough MP and the charity Independent Age are now urging pensioners in Wigan borough not to miss out on the boost to their coffers.

Makerfield’s parliamentary representative Yvonne Fovargue said: “I’m deeply concerned about the high number of older people who are not receiving the Pension Credit to which they’re entitled, and I’m pleased to be backing Independent Age’s call for the Government to urgently put in place an action plan to turn this situation around.

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

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“This 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 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.”

Independent Age estimates that each year older people in Wigan could be receiving some £3.9m more in Pension Credit than they currently are, with pensioners in Makerfield £3.4m short and those in Leigh £3.7m.

They say around 2,299 households in Wigan could be getting Pension Credit but are not doing so, with the same figures for Makerfield and Leigh being 1,920 and 2,063 respectively.

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Independent Age, which commissioned the study by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, estimates health and social care services across Britain are picking up a £4bn bill each year due to older people not getting the Pension Credit to which they are entitled.

This, the report says, outstrips the £2.2bn cost of ensuring every household which could receive Pension Credit does so.

It also concludes that 100 per cent take-up of the benefit would raise some 450,000 older households out of poverty.

Morgan Vine, head of policy and influencing at Independent Age, said: “Taxpayers are unnecessarily footing the bill for extra health and care costs when it would be significantly less expensive to simply ensuring people receive the Pension Credit to which they are entitled.

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“A take-up rate of only 61 per cent for an entitlement 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.

“We’re delighted that Yvonne Fovargue MP is supporting Independent Age’s call for the Government to take decisive, immediate action to find out why people are not receiving Pension Credit and to implement an action plan to improve the situation.”