Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 23rd January 2023.
What steps his Department is taking to encourage eligible pensioners to apply for pension credit.
I hope hon. Members know that pension credit take-up is a priority for me and for the Government. Our £1.2 million communications campaign has been ongoing since April. We had a huge push before Christmas, ahead of the cost of living payments, and I am grateful to the many hon. Members who came to the drop-in session. In addition, I know that my hon. Friend does a huge amount of work in his constituency to boost take-up.
I was pleased to support my hon. Friend’s campaign to increase the uptake of pension credit in the run-up to Christmas. Will she update the House as to whether or not that has been a success and whether we have seen an increase in uptake?
I am delighted to tell the House that we saw 7,200 claims in the week commencing
According to research from the Law Centres Network’s recent pension credit report, nearly 60% of respondents said that they waited between three and six months for claims to be processed. A constituent of mine has been waiting six months and losing out during that time. Will the Minister address the Pension Service’s processing failure and take steps to bring the average time it takes to deal with claims for pension credit down to the target time of six weeks?
I am concerned to hear of that individual case and if the hon. Lady would like to write to me, I will look into it. More broadly, we know that there have been delays; that is partly because the number of claims doubled in 2022. I am pleased to say that in February we expect claim waiting times to get back to normal, but I will, of course, report back to the House on how we are doing on that.
Nearly 1 million pensioners are not receiving pension credit to which they are entitled. To make matters worse, each of those 1 million pensioners is also missing out on a £900 payment from the Government to help them with heating, as the payment is available only to those on pension credit. Why have the Government been so ineffective at raising the take-up of pension credit? Will she also explain why on earth they linked help with heating to pension credit when they knew that 1 million pensioners would miss out as a result?
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s interest in pension credit. I hope he will have heard my previous answer about all we are doing to boost take-up and indeed the success that we had before Christmas. I have spoken to him previously about the work we are doing to automate it and make greater use of data; this is an absolute priority for me and for this Government.