DWP launches campaign on pension credit as take-up level concerns persist

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched an advertising campaign to boost the number of individuals claiming pension credit, amid continued scrutiny on the government’s broader strategy for increasing pension credit take-up.

The DWP suggested that pensioners could be missing out on a financial boost worth over £3,300 a year by failing to claim pension credit, noting that whilst over 1.4 million pensioners in Britain receive pension credit, around £1.7bn is still being left unclaimed.

In light of this, the campaign will look to encourage greater take-up and address common myths that may stop people applying for pension credit, such as how having savings, a pension or owning a home are not necessarily barriers.

It will feature in internet search results and on social media, before being expanded to national and regional newspapers, alongside leaflets to be distributed within local communities.

Businesses are also encouraged to get involved by spreading the word to their customers and using the DWP’s digital toolkit to encourage them to call the claim line.

The DWP has also recently faced further scrutiny over its strategy for improving pension credit take-up, however, with Work and Pensions Committee (WPC) chair, Stephen Timms, writing to Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, to query the government’s target for take-up of pension credit and its strategy for achieving this.

In the letter, Timms noted that whilst the latest figures revealed the take-up of pension credit had increased 3 percentage points to 66 per cent, this is "a very modest” increase, also suggesting that there is a question to which it represents a real increase in take-up.

“According to the DWP commentary, part of the reason is the exclusion from the analysis of ‘mixed-age couples’, following the change in policy in May 2019 requiring both partners in a couple to have reached state pension age to be eligible,” he explained.

“This appears to be borne out by the figures for take-up of pension credit by family type, which show take-up to be static for single women (at 65 per cent) and having increased by only two percentage points for single men (from 65 per cent to 67 per cent).

"On the other hand, there appears to be a statistically significant increase in take-up by couples, from 56 to 69 per cent.”

Timms also noted that whilst DWP has reported internal management information suggesting that in the 12 months to December 2021, the number of new claims for pension credit was about 30 per cent higher than the figure for the 12 months to December 2019, this has yet to be reflected in take-up statistics.

“Given current increases in the costs of living, it is of great concern that the latest statistics show that 850,000 families entitled to receive pension credit had not claimed it and that £1.7bn went unclaimed,” he added.

Furthermore, whilst the government previously referred to the establishment of a pension credit taskforce, an awareness day and the inclusion of a pension credit factsheet in letters sent out about state pension uprating, Timms raised concerns that “this will be insufficient in current circumstances”.

In light of this, he queried whether the DWP has the means to track the proportion of new claims for pension credit that are successful, and if so, what proportion of new claims in the 12 months to December 2021 were successful and how does this compare to the 12 months to December 2019.

He also asked whether the DWP have set a target for take-up of pension credit and a written strategy for achieving it, and, if not, whether it plans to do this.

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