1 February 2006
Pensioners paying £4,680 million too much council tax under Labour
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today accused Government of failing Edinburgh’s 79,000 pensioners. New figures show that British pensioners have missed out on up to £4,680 million of council tax benefit since 1997.
The figures, released this week by the Department for Work and Pensions show that as many as 2 million pensioners missed out on council tax benefit worth around £548 to them on average in 2003/04.
The situation is getting worse now with the number of pensioners missing out on council tax benefit nearly doubling from 1,190,000 in 1997 to 2,080,000 in 2003/04. In 1997, up to 31% of eligible pensioners were missing out, now up to 47% are missing out.
The total amount of unclaimed council tax benefit by people of all ages amounts to £6,610 million since 1997.
In a statement, John Barrett said:
“Since 1997 millions of pensioners have paid hundreds if not thousands of pounds in council tax they need not have.
“Many will have paid this deeply unfair tax because they are put off by an eye-wateringly complex benefit system. This is further evidence that the government’s obsession with intrusive means testing is failing too many people.
“It seems as if the Government either don’t care or are too afraid to introduce real reform. We must scrap council tax and replace it with a fairer system based on the ability to pay.”
Figures on pensioners missing out on Council Tax Benefit from the National Statistics series ‘Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up’:
97/98 – up to 1,190,000 not claiming. Up to £390 unclaimed. [p.28]
98/99 – up to 1,220,000 not claiming. Up to £420m unclaimed. [p.27]
99/00 – up to 1,390,000 not claiming. Up to £510m unclaimed.[p.31]
00/01 – up to 1,430,000 not claiming. Up to £580m unclaimed. [p.35]
01/02 – up to 1,760,000 not claiming. Up to £770m. unclaimed. [p.35]
02/03 – up to 1,820,000 not claiming. Up to £870m unclaimed. [p.50]
03/04 – up to 2,080,000 not claiming. Up to £1,140m unclaimed. [p.61]
Therefore total benefit unclaimed by pensioners since 1997 - £4,680 million.
Figures on amount unclaimed by people of all ages:
97/98 – up to £580 unclaimed. [p.28]
98/99 – up £650m unclaimed. [p.27]
99/00 – up to £710m unclaimed. [p.31]
00/01 – up to £860m unclaimed. [p.35]
01/02 – up to £1,060m unclaimed. [p.35]
02/03 – up to £1,200m unclaimed. [p.50]
03/04 – up £1,550m unclaimed. [p.61]
The value of council tax benefit for the 2,080,000 pensioners who missed out in 2003/04 was around £548 on average each.
Figures available from the DWP website: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/irb.asp