The reasons why £332 million of Pension Credit is not reaching people entitled to it in Scotland will be put under the microscope this week, as a Scottish parliamentary inquiry into the up-take of benefits continues.
Independent Age, the older people’s charity, has estimated that more than 123,000 Scottish households are missing out on Pension Credit to which they are entitled – equating to four in 10 eligible households.
Pension Credit can be life changing for many, topping up people’s incomes to a minimum level of £167 per week for a single person, and £255 for a couple. In addition, recipients of Pension Credit can become eligible for other benefits such as the Warm Homes Discount Scheme and the Cold Weather Payment Scheme.
Across Scotland, the average amount of Pension Credit people are missing out on is £52 per week, without taking into account the additional support they could qualify for.
The charity engaged with older people across Scotland at the end of last year as part of its Credit Where It’s Due campaign, which is calling on the UK government to take urgent action to increase the number of eligible people receiving this benefit.
More than 120 people from Scotland took part in the charity's recent survey which examined people’s experiences with Pension Credit and barriers to claiming.
Of the 98 survey respondents who had not claimed Pension Credit in Scotland key findings include:
- 76% said they were unsure if they would be entitled.
- More than 20% said it was because they didn’t know how to apply for it.
- 12% disliked the idea of claiming something called ‘a benefit’ and said this was a barrier for them.
Holyrood’s Social Security Committee launched its inquiry in October, in an effort to discover the scale of the problem around benefit take-up and explore possible solutions.
Morgan Vine Campaigns Manager at Independent Age said the inquiry was a welcome and necessary step towards improving take-up rates:
“Though Pension Credit is the responsibility of the UK government, we welcome this inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee which we hope will shine a light on the people missing out on this important benefit.
“The results of our survey powerfully illustrate some of the key barriers which prevent people in Scotland from accessing Pension Credit. For example, 76% of Scottish survey respondents who had not claimed Pension Credit said they were unsure if they would be entitled to receive it. At Independent Age, we want to ensure that everyone who is entitled to Pension Credit receives it, but this is far from the reality at the moment.”
“The UK government must reflect on the findings from this inquiry, and take action urgently to improve this system.”
More details about Independent Age’s Pension Credit can be found at www.independentage.org/credit-where-its-due.
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Notes to Editor:
Further survey results
121 people from Scotland responded to Independent Age’s online survey between 17 October and 5 November 2019.
Of the 84% of people who hadn’t applied:
- 17% think the application would be too complicated
- 14% wouldn’t want to share personal information about their finances during the assessment
16% of respondents had applied for Pension Credit. Of this group:
- 15% found out about Pension Credit themselves
- 25% found the process of applying over the phone difficult or very difficult
- 60% did not know Pension Credit was a gateway to other benefits before they applied.