3 minute read
Pension credit applications have increased by 30% in 2021 compared to 2019. This is giving a massive financial boost to vulnerable pensioners. As well as putting extra money straight into retirees’ pockets, it also opens up access to other benefits, such as rent and council tax assistance, heating bills, healthcare free NHS dental and free TV licenses for the over 75s.
However, there are still many retirees, who are our local voters, who are not complaining. I want to change that.
As Pensions Minister, I am focused on promoting Pension Credit, with a new campaign that will increase the number of low-income pensioners receiving the extra money.
Pension Credit was established 20 years ago by Gordon Brown. It requires an application to be made, as the right is means-tested. And we know that under successive governments, of different political persuasions, many of our voters did not apply.
That is changing, with take-up ever increasing: more than 1.4 million pensioners across Britain are currently receiving pension credit and take-up is at its highest level since 2010. This represents support extra £5billion for our constituents. But I want to do more. And I want to thank the many fellow parliamentarians who have gone the extra mile to promote the pension credit to their constituents, whether through social media, newspaper columns or by hosting a senior citizens’ fair.
Some retirees may think the application process would take too long to be worth it.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
We use traditional advertising but also send written reminders to the 11 million retirees in this great country
That’s why our new campaign will help boost the take-up of Pension Credit by both encouraging more older people to apply and encouraging others to talk to their retired friends and loved ones about help.
Key to this will be efforts to tackle some of the myths that may prevent people from applying, such as that having savings, a pension or owning a home could be a barrier to getting pension credit. This is not necessarily true. Likewise, even if someone thinks their reward will be minimal, pension credit can still serve as a vital gateway to additional support.
Our campaign to increase participation takes many forms. We use traditional advertising, but we also send written reminders to the 11 million retirees in this great country, as part of the ministry’s annual update communications.
That’s why, in 2021, I wrote to regional newspapers in England, Scotland and Wales asking readers to check if they might be eligible and to make a claim. We just repeated this campaign in local newspapers in March 2022 and will continue to advocate the cause with local media.
And in the weeks and months to come, we are committed to doing more – promoting pension credit online and directly in local communities, via social media, and reaching the public through advertising in all forms of media. We have also secured the support of key partners such as the BBC, ITV, energy companies, businesses and charities such as Age UK, who contribute to the Pension Credit Task Force and who have played a key role in our pension credit awareness day last June.
We know it matters. The pension credit makes the 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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