URGENT GOVERNMENT ACTION NEEDED AS OVER ONE MILLION PENSIONERS MISS OUT ON PENSION CREDIT

The failure to deliver Pension Credit to 1.06 million older people who are entitled to it is costing the health and social care systems across the UK an estimated £4 billion per year, according to Independent Age.

In my constituency of North Ayrshire & Arran 2447 pensioner households are not receiving the Pension Credit for which they are eligible.

If you think you might be eligible for Pension Credit call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234 (textphone: 0800 169 0133). They will fill in the application for you over the phone.

Pension Credit, a benefit designed to keep the least well-off pensioners out of poverty, is currently being received by just six in 10 (61%) of those who should be receiving it – leaving many on a threadbare income and having to choose between heating and eating.

New research commissioned by Independent Age has found that the low take-up is creating significant knock-on effects for the NHS and social care, costing taxpayers an estimated £4 billion per year.

This bill to the taxpayer is significantly higher than the annual cost of giving pensioners the £2.2 billion to which they are entitled but are not receiving.

Report authors Professor Donald Hirsch and Dr Juliet Stone found that the NHS bears the brunt of the additional demand, with pensioners on a low income likely to need more health care and services, such as prescriptions or the use of a hospital bed. The resulting costs to health care systems are estimated to be between £3.02 billion and £4.81 billion per year.

Those missing out on Pension Credit are also more likely to need social care – whether residential or home-based – which incurs additional costs to the state of between £66 million and £189 million per year.

The report concluded that if Pension Credit take-up was lifted from 61% to 100%, then almost 450,000 pensioners could be lifted out of poverty, reducing pensioner poverty to its lowest ever level, and resulting in substantial savings to the NHS and social care systems over the long term.

Independent Age is calling for the Government to put in place an ambitious, publicly available action plan detailing how it will work to increase the uptake of Pension Credit over the next five years.

I will once again raise the poor take-up of Pension Credit and urge the UK Government to urgently create an action plan that contains high-quality, up-to-date research into who is not claiming Pension Credit and why they are not receiving it. There needs to be recognition of the active role the Government must to play to increase Pension Credit take-up.

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