The subject of the pension credit, a means-tested benefit that consists of two parts, the savings credit and the guarantee credit, was discussed on Monday during questions on real work and pensions in the House of Commons. communes. MPs posed questions to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey and her team of ministers, and this included the issue of communication regarding the pension credit.
During the session, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions Guy Opperman announced that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is considering “an internal review of communications products to identify further improvements in our messaging, with many other aspects to be continued this year. “
The news was described by the Independent Age charity as “a positive step” that must be “part of a publicly available action plan to improve adoption.”
The answer comes to a question from Romford MP Andrew Rosindell, asking what action the DWP is taking “to increase the use of pension credit using new awareness campaigns”.
In his question, Mr Rosindell said: “The use of the pension credit has remained below 65% since 2010.
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“Although the awareness campaign in early 2020 had good intentions, it only lasted 12 weeks and partially occurred during the pandemic.
“Rather than being one-off events, does the minister agree with me and others, including the Independent Age charity, that such awareness campaigns should be part of a long-term strategy? wider and take advantage of new innovations and channels? “
Mr Opperman continued, “We plan to use existing government letters, like the nursing allowance and state pension, to help promote pension credit.
“We are also discussing a joint working agreement with the BBC. We continue to make every effort to try to promote pension credit.”
The Guarantee Credit, which is one of the two parts of the income-linked benefit, supplements the weekly income of retirees if it is less than £ 173.75 for singles or £ 265.75 for couples.
However, DWP data showed that up to one million eligible households did not apply for pension credit, amounting to an unclaimed £ 1.8 billion, during the year 2018 to 2019. .
This works out to £ 1,700 per eligible family, per year.
Responding to the numbers when they were released in October last year, Becky O’Connor, head of pensions and savings for interactive investors, said: “There has been a slight increase in the number of people claiming a retirement credit in 2019.
“However, ‘up to a million’ families missing around £ 1,700 a year remains a huge gap in the use of benefits among those in need.
“More needs to be done to help vulnerable seniors access this money, especially as many are isolated in their homes during local shutdowns and may miss government awareness campaign posters.
“A simple letter in the mail to eligible households may be more effective in improving participation, as well as information to younger parents who can help with claims. “
On Monday, MP Andrew Rosindell said: “I am delighted to hear that the Department of Work and Pensions is seeking to improve government communications on pension credit.
“This is money that many retirees are entitled to but often ignore.
“I look forward to seeing the ministry’s plans on this in the coming months. “
Deborah Alsina MBE, Managing Director of Independent Age, said: “While the Minister’s commitment to review pension credit communications is a positive step, it is essential that it is only a part of a publicly available action plan to improve participation.
“Our research has shown that if the number of people receiving a pension credit increased from 61% to 100%, almost 450,000 retirees could be lifted out of poverty.
“The government needs to work with key stakeholders to urgently create an action plan that includes awareness campaigns, a comprehensive communications strategy, and new, high-quality, up-to-date research on who is not applying for credit. pension and why, so that we can identify and overcome any obstacles.
“By ensuring that everyone who is eligible for the pension credit receives it, the government has the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of seniors.
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