Reacting to today’s Pension Credit uptake figures, Joanna Elson CBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age said:  

“The Pension Credit stats released today showing uptake for 2021/22 are extremely alarming. They show a decrease in the percentage of eligible people receiving the entitlement, falling from 66% to 63%. While these figures only go up to March 2022, so any successful activity that has taken place since then won’t be accounted for, it’s still especially concerning, and the UK Government needs to  investigate urgently why their efforts to increase uptake of Pension Credit have failed. 

“What makes these numbers even more worrying is that they cover a turbulent period that saw the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and the start of the cost-of-living crisis, events that have caused misery for millions of older people on low incomes across the UK. We have heard firsthand from countless people over 65 living in financial hardship just how difficult it has been, including incredibly sad stories of people going to bed in hats and coats because they can’t afford to heat their home, to eating dog food to save money. Now we know that up to 880,000 people in 2021/22 did not receive vital financial support that can be worth up to £3,000 a year. As importantly, they also missed out on the additional benefits Pension Credit opens the door to, such as Council Tax reduction, Cold Weather Payments and money towards optical and dental treatment.  It is heartbreaking that  hundreds of thousands of older people have suffered needlessly, while this money has been available all along.

“The UK Government's awareness raising activity during this time had the right intentions, but it’s clear that efforts to raise awareness of Pension Credit failed to reach the right people. The Government must quickly learn from its mistakes and consider a more targeted approach that gets money directly into the pockets of those that need help. We want to see the introduction of a Pension Credit uptake strategy that spells out how older people living in, or on the edge of poverty can access the financial support they are entitled to receive. Winter is fast approaching, the time for action is now.”

Notes to Editors:

Pension Credit uptake for 19/20 was 66%, meaning that up to 850,000 eligible older people were missing out on the entitlement.

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