The government is boosting take-up of Pension Credit – and our parliamentary colleagues can help us
Claims for Pension Credit were up 30 per cent in 2021 compared with 2019. It provides a massive financial boost to vulnerable pensioners. As well as putting extra money directly in pensioners’ pockets, it also opens up access to other benefits, such as help with rent and council tax, heating bills, free NHS dental care and free TV licenses for the over-75s.
However there are still many pensioners, who are our local constituents, not claiming. I want to change this.
As the minister for pensions, I’m focused on promoting Pension Credit, with a new campaign that will drive up the number of low-income pensioners receiving the extra money.
Pension Credit was set up 20 years ago by Gordon Brown. It requires an application to be made, as the entitlement is means-tested. And we know that under successive governments, of different political persuasions, many of our constituents have not applied.
That is changing, with ever increasing take-up: more than 1.4 million pensioners across Great Britain currently receive Pension Credit and take-up is at its highest level since 2010. That is an extra £5bn of support to our constituents. But I want to do more. And I want to thank the many parliamentary colleagues who have gone the extra mile to promote Pension Credit to their constituents, whether it is through social media, newspaper columns or holding an older persons fair.
Some pensioners may think the claim process would be too time-consuming to be worthwhile.
This could not be further from the truth.
We are using traditional advertising but are also sending out written reminders to the 11 million pensioners in this great country
That’s why our new campaign will help boost take-up of Pension Credit by both encouraging more older people to claim and encouraging others to speak to their retired friends and loved ones about the support.
Key to this will be efforts to tackle some of the myths that may stop people applying, such as how having savings, a pension, or owning a home could be barriers to receiving Pension Credit. This is not necessarily true. Similarly, even if someone thinks their reward will be minimal, Pension Credit can still act as a vital gateway to additional support.
Our campaign to increase take-up is in many forms. We are using traditional advertising but are also sending out written reminders to the 11 million pensioners in this great country, as part of the department’s annual uprating communications.
That’s why in 2021 I wrote to regional newspapers across England, Scotland and Wales calling on readers to check if they could be eligible and make a claim. We have just repeated this local newspaper campaign in March 2022 and will continue to make the case to local news outlets.
And over the coming weeks and months we are committed to going further – promoting Pension Credit online and directly in local communities, via social media channels, and reaching audiences through advertising in all forms of media. We have also enlisted the support of key partners like the BBC, ITV, energy companies, businesses and charities like Age UK, who help with the Pension Credit task force, and who were a key part of our Pension Credit awareness day last June.
We know this matters. Pension Credit makes a difference. Get involved and help spread the word.
Guy Opperman is Conservative MP for Hexham and minister for pensions and financial inclusion
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