The failure to deliver Pension Credit to those entitled to it is costing the NHS and social care systems in Easington £7.4 million every year, according to older people’s charity Independent Age.
More than 2,123 households in Easington who are entitled to Pension Credit do not receive the benefit, which is designed to keep the least well-off pensioners out of poverty. Currently, just six in 10 (61%) people who are entitled to this payment are receiving it – leaving many forced to choose between heating and eating.
New research from the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, commissioned and published by Independent Age, shows that across Britain, the extra costs for taxpayers for those eligible for Pension Credit not receiving it is an estimated £4 billion per year for the NHS and care services. This significantly outstrips the £2.2 billion it would cost annually to ensure pensioners receive the Pension Credit to which they are entitled and desperately need.
Report authors Professor Donald Hirsch and Dr Juliet Stone concluded that if Pension Credit take-up was increased from 61% to 100%, then almost 450,000 people could be lifted out of poverty, reducing pensioner poverty to its lowest ever level.
Easington MP Grahame Morris is backing Independent Age’s call 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.
It comes ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review, in which the Government will set Departmental Budgets until 2023/24.
Grahame Morris MP said:
“I’m deeply concerned about the high number of older people in Easington who are not receiving the Pension Credit to which they’re entitled, and I’m pleased to be backing Independent Age’s call for the Government to urgently put in place an action plan to turn this situation around.
“The knock-on effects on the NHS and care systems are costing taxpayers £7.4 million in Easington alone.
“This report provides clear evidence that ensuring Pension Credit is delivered to those who need it is not only the right thing to do for those pensioners, but also the right thing to do for taxpayers.
“The Government’s action plan needs to include a fresh look at roles and responsibilities relating to Pension Credit, putting a stop to blaming older people for this problem.”
Morgan Vine, Head of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, said:
“Taxpayers are unnecessarily footing the bill for an extra £7.4 million of extra health and care costs in Easington – when it would be significantly less expensive to simply ensuring people receive the Pension Credit to which they are entitled.
“A take-up rate of only 61% for an entitlement designed to keep older people out of poverty is indefensible – and this rate has stayed stagnant for a decade. Without this money, many people are prevented from living with dignity and having a social, well-connected later life.
“We’re delighted that Grahame Morris MP is supporting Independent Age’s call for the Government to take decisive, immediate action to find out why people are not receiving Pension Credit and to implement an action plan to improve the situation.”