I have now written to the Secretary of State for Department of Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd, to highlight the difficulties our poorest older people in accessing the support that Pension Credit can offer.
With £7 billion of Pension Credit unclaimed across the UK since June 2017, and with £7.4 million unclaimed in my own constituency of North Ayrshire and the Isle of Arran, this means that far too many of our older people are missing out on vital support and this money is retained by the HM Treasury.
I have asked the UK Government on the floor of the Commons what it will do to ensure older people are aware of this support and did not receive much of an answer. If the only means of claiming is thwarted by a lack of staff this is very worrying indeed.
If the only way to claim this benefit is to phone a claim line, then this claim line must be properly staffed since it is not possible for individuals to apply by post or online.
This has to be urgently addressed especially in view of the fact that free TV licences for the over-75s will soon only be available for those on Pension Credit. I will continue to pursue this matter on behalf of older people in my constituency and across the UK.