29 March 2007
Pension credit failing Scotland’s pensioners
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today attacked the Government for failing Scotland’s pensioners after figures released today revealed that Pension Credit take-up had fallen.
New official figures released today show that Pension Credit take up rates fell from between 72% – 79% in 2004/05 to between 70% - 78% in 2005/06.
Previous figures uncovered through answers to Mr Barrett’s parliamentary questions suggest that the situation may be even worse in the capital.
The news comes just a week after the Chancellors last budget, which was heavily criticised by Mr Barrett for relying too heavily on means-tested benefits to offset increasing taxes for those on low incomes.
Speaking from Westminster, John Barrett said:
“This is further proof that Gordon Brown’s obsession with mass means-tested benefits is compressively failing to help the most vulnerable people in our society.
“The Chancellor has long argued that take-up of means-tested benefits would improve with time, yet almost four out of 10 pensioners across the country are still not claiming the money they are entitled to.
“The Chancellor assured us last week that means tested tax credits would protect the poorest in our society from the income tax rises he introduced. Today’s figures make a mockery of that claim.
“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 understandably 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."
• Pension Credit estimates of take up by expenditure fell from between 72% – 79% in 04/05 to between 70% - 78% in 05/06.
• Full figures on take-up can be found at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/income_analysis/PCpublication.pdf