- Independent Age calls for action on Pension Credit, as new figures show Pension Credit up-take is unmoved.
- Independent Age survey highlights the barriers that stop people receiving Pension Credit, and the need for the DWP to take action to ensure those entitled to this support receive it.
New figures released today by the DWP show that more than a million pensioner households are still missing out on Pension Credit, forcing them to choose between heating and eating, says older people's charity Independent Age.
The DWP statistics show that the Pension Credit up-take rate between April 2017 and March. 2018 - at just 61% - has not shifted from the previous year, with 1.15 million eligible pensioner households continuing to miss out.
Pension Credit is an entitlement designed to keep pensioners out of poverty by topping pensions up to a minimum level of £167 per week for a single person, and £255 for a couple.
During a recent inquiry in the Scottish Parliament, the DWP confirmed that if all older people received the benefits they were entitled to, including Pension Credit, pensioner poverty would be reduced to almost zero.
Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said: “Pension Credit was introduced to provide vital financial help to older people who are most in need, yet 1.15 million pensioner households are missing out on an average of £2028 per year. Single women are particularly affected, making up 74% of single people who are eligible to claim but haven’t done so.
”The DWP have not conducted new research on who is not claiming, where they are, and why they are not claiming for a decade. These new statistics clearly demonstrate that up-to-date research is needed to gain a better understanding of why this money is not getting to the people entitled to it.”
To coincide with the new national Pension Credit data, Independent Age has released the results of a survey it undertook into the barriers and perceptions preventing people from receiving the benefit. The results revealed that just 26% of respondents who received Pension Credit had heard about the benefit from the DWP.
The survey of 1600 people, including 312 Pension Credit claimants, found that 76% of respondents thought that a barrier to claiming was people being unsure if they would be entitled.
Ms Alsina noted that the DWP recently announced a 12-week awareness raising initiative around Pension Credit.
“This is a welcome initiative, but will not go far enough to tackle the issues at the heart of this problem.
"Our survey results highlight multiple barriers to receiving Pension Credit and Independent Age believes the government must explore options so that the onus is not always on the individual.
“The DWP must set targets to improve up-take and deliver a comprehensive action plan to increase the number of people receiving the money they need.”
West Sussex pensioner Anisah Rani, 86, said prior to becoming aware of her eligibility for Penson Credit, she had struggled to afford everyday household essentials.
"I was hungry sometimes. It was very often a decision of whether I would eat, or turn on the heating," she said.
“Since receiving Pension Credit, it’s been a whole new way of life. I could eat better and be healthier. It changed my life, because of the other benefits that I was able to access – the optician, and dentist, and medication that I needed.
“There are many people today who don’t know about Pension Credit. I really think the government needs to tell us older people what is available, and what they’re prepared to do for us.”
Independent Age is calling on the public to join its Credit where it’s due campaign, which presses the government to put the unclaimed £2.5 billion into the pockets of pensioners most in need. More information can be found at independentage.org/credit-where-its-due.
- ENDS –
Notes to editor:
Key DWP statistics on Pension Credit – 2017-2018
- The up-take of Pension Credit was 61% - remaining unchanged from the previous year.
- £2.5 billion in Pension Credit went unclaimed. This is lower than the previous year’s total (at £3.5 billion), which is likely due to a lower number of people being entitled to the benefit, after the introduction of the new state pension.
- 1.15 million eligible pensioner households missed out on an average of £39 per week, or £2028 per year.
- 670,000 single women, 230,000 single men, and 320,000 couples entitled to the benefit did not receive it.
Independent Age survey statistics
A UK-wide survey, conducted in September 2019, and promoted via Independent Age networks and social media. 1602 people responded to the survey. The survey captured thoughts both from people who receive Pension Credit and those who have not. Full results of the survey are available by contacting Independent Age.
How did you first hear about Pension Credit?
Respondents who had claimed Pension Credit (312)
Respondents who had not claimed Pension Credit (1086)
All respondents (1398)
I found out about it myself
From a friend or family member
From my GP or Healthcare professional
From the Department for Work and Pensions
From my local authority/ council or social services department
From Independent Age
In the press or media
From another charity such as Age UK, Citizens Advice
Why do you think people are missing out on Pension Credit
Respondents who had claimed Pension Credit (292)
Respondents who had not claimed Pension Credit (1083)
Combined percentage of both groups
people would be unsure whether they are entitled
people would not be aware Pension Credit exists
people wouldn’t know how to apply for it
the application process was too complicated
people would not like the idea of claiming something called a benefit
people wouldn’t want to share financial information
How would you describe the difference receiving Pension Credit has made to your life or the person you assisted in applying?
Out of 221 respondents who had claimed Pension Credit, 40% said it had greatly improved their lives and an additional 38% said their lives had improved.
About Independent Age
Independent Age is an older people’s charity that wants to make the UK a better place to grow old for everyone. We understand the issues faced in later life, campaign for change, and provide support people can rely on – from clear and simple information guides to a network of volunteers helping to reduce loneliness and isolation across the UK.
A charity founded over 150 years ago, we are independent so older people can be too. For more information, visit our website www.independentage.org
Arrange to speak to one of our advisers for free and confidential advice and information. Call our Freephone number on 0800 319 6789 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make a donation or find out more about how you can support the work of Independent Age, including taking part in other fundraising events, please visit independentage.org/support-us.