Local MP Patricia Gibson, has urged the UK Tory Government to stop conning people and deliver a workable Pension Credit application process after it became clear that applying successfully is extremely difficult.
Across Scotland, 123,000 pensioner households live in poverty because of the UK government's failure to act and here in North Ayrshire alone, £7.4 million of Pension Credit payments are unclaimed this year.
Mrs Gibson used a point of order at Westminster (Wednesday 17 July) to highlight systemic failures in an application process which prevents people from successfully claiming this vital benefit. She said:
“Pension Credit is vital for many elderly constituents. It tops up one of the lowest state pensions in Europe and is a gateway to other benefits such as assistance with Council Tax payments and Housing Benefit.
“Many constituents have explained the problems faced when trying to make a claim. The UK Government’s Pension Credit web page advises that applicants must visit a Citizens Advice or Age UK centre or call the Pension Credit claim line, but when my constituents do so it is rarely, if ever, answered.
“It’s nothing but a ‘con’ which disheartens elderly people from applying. One suspects that is what the Tories are trying to do. If not, they would fix their broken application process.
“Online application forms are - bizarrely - only available online for claimants living in Northern Ireland.
“In recent times the UK Government has increased the age at which people can claim a state pension, removed free TV licenses for the over 75s and is now severely restricting Pension Credit eligibility.
“Despite its continued assault on pensioner wellbeing, it remains incumbent on the UK Government to do all it can to encourage the take up of Pension Credit. I will continue to press them, so that older people can successfully claim what is rightfully theirs.”