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1 February 2007

42% of eligible pensioners still missing out on pension credit

Over 40% of eligible pensioner households in Edinburgh are still not receiving the Chancellor’s flagship Pension Credit, according to shocking statistics published today by Edinburgh West Lib Dem MP, John Barrett.

Figures uncovered through answers to Mr Barrett’s parliamentary questions, have shown that the take up of the Government’s key benefit for pensioners is stalling at just 58% across the city. Currently, only around 17,000 of the 30,000 eligible for the benefit are actually receiving it.

The pension credit was introduced in a fanfare of publicity in October 2003 to replace the Minimum Income Guarantee (Income Support for people aged 60 or over). However, over 3 years on, many pensioners are still not claiming the benefit.

In a statement, John Barrett said:

“It is simply unacceptable that over 12,000 pensioners in the Capital are still not getting the financial help they deserve.

"The Government have had over 3 years to get the message across to pensioners about the pension credit and yet the take-up rate across Edinburgh is still shockingly low.

“Part of the problem is the eye-watering complexity that is at the heart of the benefits system. Not only is it a struggle to understand the complicated forms, but many pensioners are still refusing to suffer the indignity of means testing and are instead simply going without they help they are entitled to.

"The Department for Work & Pensions has to hold it hands up and admit their complex means testing of pensioners has failed. It is time the Government took pensioner poverty more seriously by channelling money into a meaningful increase in the state pension. That way, all pensioners can get a fairer deal from the state in their retirement."


Notes

An accurate number of pensioner households for Scotland is available by looking at those households in receipt of winter fuel payments. Latest figures were made available by the Department for Work & Pensions in a parliamentary answer to John Barrett:

Written Parliamentary Question (WPQ)
Date of Answer: 13.02.2006
Column References: 442 c1698-9W;442 c1698-9W
Member Tabling Question: Barrett, John
Topic: Winter Fuel Payments
Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people are receiving winter fuel payments in each constituency in Scotland.
Answering Department: Dept for Work and Pensions
Member Answering Question: Timms, Stephen
Answer: This winter’s figures are not yet available. The table below gives the number of winter fuel payments made in each constituency in Scotland in winter 2004–05. We expect the numbers to be similar for this winter.

ConstituencyPayments made
Aberdeen Central10,775
Aberdeen North12,485
Aberdeen South15,455
Airdrie and Shotts13,455
Angus17,175
Argyll and Bute15,950
Ayr17,155
Banff and Buchan15,430
Caithness Sunderland and Easter Ross12,015
Carrick Cumnock and Doon Valley18,360
Central Fife14,810
Clydebank and Milngavie14,185
Clydesdale16,415
Coatbridge and Chryston12,220
Comhairle nan Eileen Siar6,345
Cumbernauld and Kilsyth10,490
Cunninghame North16,810
Cunninghame South11,850
Dumbarton14,155
Dumfries18,810
Dundee East15,620
Dundee West13,835
Dunfermline East13,250
Dunfermline West12,880
East Kilbride16,645
East Lothian16,620
Eastwood18,465
Edinburgh Central11,255
Edinburgh East and Musselburgh15,285
Edinburgh North and Leigh11,750
Edinburgh Pentlands14,690
Edinburgh South13,990
Edinburgh West17,670
Falkirk East14,600
Falkirk West14,085
Galloway and Upper Nithsdale17,825
Glasgow Anniesland12,930
Glasgow Baillieston10,870
Glasgow Cathcart11,460
Glasgow Govan9,340
Glasgow Kelvin9,090
Glasgow Maryhill10,300
Glasgow Pollok12,190
Glasgow Rutherglen12,855
Glasgow Shettleston10,425
Glasgow Springburn12,200
Gordon15,095
Greenock and Inverclyde12,710
Hamilton North and Bellshill12,160
Hamilton South10,980
Inverness East Nairn and Lochaber18,155
Kilmarnock and Loudoun15,595
Kirkcaldy14,040
Linlithgow13,070
Livingston12,175
Midlothian12,525
Moray16,720
Motherwell and Wishaw13,895
North East Fife16,870
North Tayside19,715
Ochil14,285
Orkney and Shetland8,570
Paisley North12,130
Paisley South13,775
Perth17,700
Ross Skye and Inverness West15,670
Roxburgh and Berwickshire14,885
Stirling14,450
Strathkelvin and Bearsden17,045
Tweeddale Ettrick and Lauderdale14,075
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine14,840
West Renfrewshire12,260
Notes: 1. Figures rounded to the nearest five. 2. Parliamentary constituencies are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant ONS postcode directory. Source: Information Directorate, 100 per cent. sample.

Total Households Receiving Winter Fuel Payments: 992,430
Total Edinburgh Households receiving Winter Fuel Payments: 84,640

(2) The Government disclosed the number of pensioner households that would be eligible for the pension credit in Scotland in a parliamentary answer to Mike Weir MP

Type: Written Parliamentary Question (WPQ)
Date of Answer: 14.12.2004
Column References: 428 c1039-40W;428 c1040-1W
Member Tabling Question: Weir, Mike
Topic: Dept for Work and Pensions
Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many pensioners his Department estimates are eligible for pension credit in (a) the UK and (b) Scotland; and how many pensioners have taken up pension credit since it was introduced in (i) the UK and (ii) Scotland. - Inc table and figures.
Answering Department: Dept for Work and Pensions
Member Answering Question: Wicks, Malcolm
Answer:
Malcolm Wicks: We estimate that approximately 3.85 million households in Great Britain, corresponding to approximately 4.95 million individuals, and approximately 350,000 households in Scotland, corresponding to approximately 450,000 individuals, are likely to be eligible for pension credit in 2004-05. These estimates, rounded to the nearest 50,000 households or individuals, are subject to a wide margin of error and should be used as a broad indication of the likely eligible population only.

Therefore, 350,000 households in Scotland should be eligible for the Pensions Credit.

(3) 350,000 as a percentage of 992,430 is approximately 35%. Therefore, 35% of pensioner households in Edinburgh should also be eligible for pension credit.

35% x 84,640 = 29.624

Therefore 30,000 households across Edinburgh should be eligible for the Pension Credit

(4) Take up of pension credit in Edinburgh and the number of pensioner households actually receiving pension credit was revealed in an answer to John Barrett on the 8th of January 2007:

Type: Written Parliamentary Question (WPQ)
Date of Answer: 08.01.2007
Column References: 455 c184-90W
Member Tabling Question: Barrett, John
Topic: Pension Credit
Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in each constituency in Scotland were in receipt of pension credit in each year since 2003; and how much was claimed in pension credit in each year.
Answering Department: Dept for Work and Pensions
Member Answering Question: Purnell, James
Answer: The information is as follows.

Parliamentary constituency Pension credit household recipients May 2005 (£ million) Amount of pension credit claimed in 2005 (thousand) Pension credit household recipients May 2006 (£ million) Amount of pension credit claimed in 2006 (thousand)

Edinburgh East 4.48 11.14 4.52 11.83
Edinburgh North and Leith 3.56 8.75 3.54 9.22
Edinburgh South 2.75 6.55 2.75 6.69
Edinburgh South West 3.26 7.66 3.33 8.29
Edinburgh West 3.33 7.31 3.37 7.63

Edinburgh Total is 17,510 households in receipt of pension credit

(5) Calculation of take-up rate of pension credit in Edinburgh:

17,510 x 100 / 30,000 = 58.36

Therefore only 58% of eligible Pensioners across Edinburgh are receiving pension credit.

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This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.