Around 850,000 households are thought to be without the life support of the Pension Credit, at a time when the cost of living crisis is hitting those on low or fixed incomes particularly hard.
While more than 1.4 million pensioners benefit from the Pension Credit, many do not claim this additional financial assistance which can also be a gateway to other benefits.
According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which was holding its second annual Pension Credit ‘Day of Action’ as part of an awareness campaign, around £1.7billion of benefits are missing. not claimed.
The DWP said it will provide leaflets to local communities, while businesses can also spread the word to their customers.
State pension recipients will continue to receive pension credit reminders by post.
Pension Credit is designed to help cover day-to-day living costs for people over retirement age and on low incomes.
It supplements a person’s income to a minimum of £182.60 per week for single pensioners and £278.70 for couples.
It can be claimed by phone and online. An online pension credit calculator can help retirees check if they are likely to be eligible and get an estimate of what they might receive.
People can go to gov.uk/pension-credit or call 0800 99 1234 for more information.
The campaign reminds people that even a small reward can provide access to a wide range of other benefits, such as help with housing costs, council tax or heating bills. For people over 75, this includes maintaining the right to a free TV license.
Pensions Minister Guy Opperman said: “We recognize the challenges that some pensioners will face with the cost of living, which is why promoting pension credit is a priority.
“We call on all retired family members, friends and loved ones to check in with them and see if they can get this extra financial support, which could make a huge difference in people’s daily lives. “
Martin Lewis, Founder and Chairman of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “In the midst of the cost of living crisis, it is a national tragedy that living for a million retirees is not enjoying a major increase in their income.
“My general rule of thumb is: if you (or someone you know) are aged 66 or over and your total income is less than around £200 a week, log on or call the pension credit to see if you qualify for a payment of up to £3,300 a year.
“I’m not saying everyone will have it, but many will, and it only takes a few minutes to find out. So don’t delay, just call.
‘And not only is that money serious, it’s also often a bridging fee which means you’re eligible for a range of other help, such as council tax cuts, the extra £650 funding help for energy, discount on warm houses, housing allowances, dental and optical care and, for those over 75, a free TV licence.
DWP Visiting Officer Rich Mackenzie said: ‘I would ask anyone who comes into contact with pensioners to ask them what they know about pension credit. That could be something that helps, and in today’s financial climate, there’s no doubt more people will struggle.
Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: ‘The pension credit can be a really big boost for older people struggling on low income. Citizens Advice can help you understand if you might be eligible and advise you on how to make a claim.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Any older person on a low or modest income who is struggling to pay their bills, or who would like to find out more about any additional income that may be available, can also contact Age UK to get help to verify their full rights and see if they are among the many who are missing.
“People can call the Age UK advice line on freephone 0800 169 65 65, contact their local Age UK office or visit www.ageuk.org.uk.”
Councilor Andrew Western, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Resource Council, said: ‘Increasing the use of the pension credit will certainly help and open up pathways for other benefits, such as tax relief from advice and should be part of a broader, longer-term approach to making sure everyone has a decent standard of living.
Former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb, who is now a partner at consultants LCP (Lane Clark & Peacock), said: “While awareness campaigns are welcome, the best way to tackle the no – large-scale remedy is that the government uses the data it already has on older people and their incomes.
“A lot of retirees are already ‘in the system’ and claiming things like council tax or rent help, but aren’t automatically assessed for pension credit. If we want to tackle this problem at its root, we must take systematic action and not rely solely on one-off advertising campaigns, no matter how well-intentioned.