Independent Age Caller for Government Pension Credit Scheme

The past year has been difficult for many people, especially those living in poverty.

Too often at Independent Age we hear of older people having to choose between eating and heating their homes.

That’s why we were delighted to see the annual pension credit increase – a single person eligible for entitlement will now receive up to £177.10 a week, and eligible couples will now receive up to £270.30 .

We know this money is a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people, but we estimate that up to 1 million seniors who might be eligible for pension credit are not getting it.

Our analysis shows that this could affect up to 84,000 households in the South West.

That means there’s over £182m not reaching those who need it most.

Pension Credit take-up hasn’t topped 64% for about a decade – the worst take-up of any earnings-related benefit.

It acts as a gateway to a free TV license for the over 75s, free NHS prescriptions, council tax help, housing benefit, free eye tests and much more.

Together, that could be worth around £7,000 a year for an individual.

We welcome the efforts made by the government to ensure that more people benefit from the pension credit, but they have not yet had the necessary impact.

We urgently need the government to produce an action plan to tackle low utilization in a more strategic and effective way. This should include a comprehensive communications strategy, including awareness campaigns, as well as new, high-quality research on who is not applying for pension credit and why.

In addition to making a huge difference in people’s lives, full adoption could also save the taxpayer money.

Research we recently commissioned suggests that full use could, over time, lead to net savings as people’s health improves and they are less likely to need health services or of social services.

By working with the government to identify and overcome all barriers, we believe we can increase adoption and ultimately improve the lives of people in the South West later in life who face unnecessary financial hardship.

Deborah Alsina MBE

Managing Director of Independent Age