Pensioners failing to claim cash

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MANY Thame pensioners could be missing out on vital benefits which might add as much as £50 to their weekly income.

Currently 2,390 constituency members claim the Pension Credit but it is estimated as many as another 1,500 are eligible but fail to claim.

Thame MP, John Howell, raised the issue of the take-up of Pension Credit on the floor of the House of Commons on February 14, asking ministers what could be done to make sure this support reaches those who need it most.

Pension Credit was introduced in 2003 by Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was designed to lift a large number of the poorest retired people out of poverty.

It replaced the Minimum Income Guarantee.

Mr Howell said: “Pension Credit can make a significant difference to some of our poorest pensioners yet the take-up rate is not good. I wanted to know what ministers are proposing to do to improve that.”

Many pensioners do not know about the benefit, feel stigmatised in claiming, and do not want to give out personal information.

In response, MP Steve Webb said the Department for Work and Pensions was working with the Revenue (HMRC) to see whether those entitled to the benefit could be more easily identified

Mr Howell added: “This is very much the government’s approach to the benefit system which is going to be simplified and streamlined in the Welfare Reform Bill which will shortly go before parliament.”