Pension credit failings leave 1m pensioners in poverty

The government’s failure to act on pension credit has led to more than one million pensioner households living in poverty in Great Britain, according to Independent Age.

The elderly people’s charity found that the government has “held on” to £7bn in unclaimed pension credit since the last general election.

It forecast that this figure will increase to over £17bn by 2022, equating £10m every day.

Independent Age analysis revealed that the region being hit worst by unclaimed pension credit was the north west, with over 170,000 pensioner households missing out on £430m.

The least affected area was found to be the north east, where there are 72,000 households losing out on £163m.

Independent Age has urged the government to increase take-up of pension credit by committing to a 75 per cent “take-up target” by 2020, which it says would “lift 500,000 out of poverty” and put an extra £1.25bn into the pockets of pensioners with lower incomes.

It also called for an “action plan” to be put in place to make the necessary changed to increase the number of pensioners who benefit.

More than three quarters (77 per cent) of MPs and 81 per cent of the public believe that is the current government’s responsibility to ensure that all older people who are entitled to pension credit are receiving it, according to studies by ComRes and Opinium Research respectively.

Commenting on the analysis, Independent Age director of policy, George McNamara, said: “The recent decision to limit the TV licence to only those who receive pension credit adds insult to injury to over a million pensioners who between them, due to government inaction, are missing out on a staggering £10m every day that should be in their pockets.

“While pensioners miss out on an average £49 a week each, the only beneficiary is the Chancellor sitting on billions in unclaimed pension credit. It is the hidden scandal that is blamelessly accepted within government.

“Reform of pension credit is essential and it is the government’s responsibility to act. It won’t cost them an additional penny, but would transform the lives of over a million pensioner households.”

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