My Department has carried out a comprehensive campaign of communication since April 2022 to promote pension credit. I am pleased to inform the House that the average number of pension credit applications is up 73% compared with this time last year.
I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work that he has been doing in his constituency on this matter. I can inform him that for the week commencing
This is not party political; we all want to make sure that pensioners in need get the help and support that they can get. The Secretary of State will understand, though, that in communities such as mine there are still too many pensioners eligible for pension credit who are not yet accessing it. Given the success of his campaign so far, what further will he do to ensure that the really hard-to-reach pensioners get the support that they deserve and need?
I very much welcome the hon. Gentleman’s question and the non-partisan way in which he presented it. He is absolutely right; there must be no let-up in this matter. Two thirds of those we believe are eligible for pension credit receive it, but that means that one third do not. We cannot identify them precisely in advance, which is why communication is so important. We will write to 11,000 pensioners soon to tell them about the uprating and to stress the point about pension credit. From today, we are launching television advertisements to further that message.
The Government seem to be trying to pat themselves on the back after years of failure on pension credit. As we just heard, hundreds of thousands of pensioners are still missing out on a vital top-up benefit that is needed to get them through the cost of living crisis. Why has the Government’s response been so ineffective, and what on earth will the Government do about their dismal failure to help pensioners during their hour of need?
I am very surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman pose that question, first, because of his party’s record on this matter when they were in government; and secondly, because of the clear progress that I have outlined to the House today and on previous occasions about the increase in take-up that the Government are securing.