I’m calling on the UK Government to take urgent and comprehensive action to ensure that older people who are entitled to Pension Credit are receiving the benefit.
Independent Age estimate that there are as many as 1.3 million pensioner households who are entitled to, but not receiving, Pension Credit. This equates to more than 40% of those eligible. The charity are calling on the UK Government to take action to ensure that at least 75% of those eligible to receive Pension Credit receive the benefit by the end of 2020, with a view to increasing this to 100% of all those eligible by 2025.
In Newport East, almost £5 million of Pension Credit is not reaching older people each year who are eligible to claim it. As Age Cymru have highlighted, there are many reasons why older people do not claim pension credit: they may not know the benefit exists, they may feel they are not entitled to any help, they may be put off by the process of claiming, they may struggle on alone assuming others are worse off than them, or they be living with dementia.
Pension Credit was introduced by the Labour Government in 2003 as a way of improving the lives of older people, providing a greater degree of security to afford essential items – from the weekly shop to essential bills – and enabling recipients to live with dignity and greater independence. The Government must take urgent and comprehensive action to ensure that everyone who is entitled to Pension Credit receives it.
The decision to link eligibility for free TV licences for the over-75s to pension credit also means that some older people risk missing out on two benefits. 3,770 households in Newport East are set to lose their TV licences following the changes to the concession, which are a result of the UK Government outsourcing responsibility for funding free licences for over 75s. Many of those who are set to lose out on their free TV licence would actually be eligible for pension credit. Until the Government act to ensure that everyone who is entitled to pension credit gets the benefit, a huge number of older people risk losing out on two benefits at once if the TV licence proposals go ahead.
To find out if you are eligible to claim pension credit, call Age UK’s free helpline on 0800 678 1602, or visit their website at: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/benefits-entitlements/pension-credit/