MPs support call to address 'low' take up of Pension Credit

Independent Age has written to Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, calling for more to be done in addressing the 'low' take up of Pension Credit “as a matter of urgency”.

MPs from across the political spectrum have issued their support for the cross-party letter, including Work and Pensions Committee chair, Stephen Timms, Conservative MP for West Worcestershire, Harriett Baldwin, Labour MP for Rotherham, Sarah Champion, and SNP MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, Lisa Cameron.

In the letter, Independent Age warned that pensioner poverty was increasing, with 18 per cent of pensioners living in poverty and 10 per cent living in severe poverty.

It added that the increase in pensioner poverty was accelerating at a faster pace among women, with single women over 65 being the largest group missing out on Pension Credit entitlement and having the highest poverty rate (27 per cent).

Independent Age pointed to research it commissioned that found that around three in 10 pensioners could be lifted out of poverty through maximising Pension Credit uptake.

However, as many as one million people in later life are eligible for Pension Credit but are not receiving it, with Independent Age saying that it has the worst uptake of all income-related benefits and has not risen above 64 per cent for almost a decade.

The letter welcomed the Department for Work and Pensions’ recent efforts to boost take-up, but warned that this was “only part of what is needed”.

“The scale and urgency of this challenge demands comprehensive and innovative action,” the letter stated.

“We ask the government to work alongside key stakeholders to urgently create a plan to increase the level of Pension Credit uptake.

“This plan should outline a range of activity including sustained and impactful awareness campaigns, new research into who is missing out and why, better targeted communication to people who are, or may be, eligible and exploring options around auto-enrolment.

“By working to ensure that everyone who is entitled to Pension Credit receives it, the government has the opportunity to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of older people, while also making long-term savings in government spending.”

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