To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to introduce within the public service agreements set by central Government a commitment to raise Council Tax Benefit take-up rates for pensioners from the current level of 65 per cent. to 90 per cent. within three years; and if he will make a statement.
We have no plans at present to introduce a target for take-up of Council Tax Benefit by pensioners.
Take-up of Council Tax Benefit has historically been lower than for other income-related benefits, take-up by pensioners being lower than for non-pensioners. However, we are keen to ensure that all pensioners entitled to help with their council tax bills are claiming Council Tax Benefit. We have therefore launched a take-up campaign to help support local authorities in encouraging those who may be entitled to claim.
The introduction of Pension Credit also means around 300,000 pensioner households will be newly entitled to Council Tax Benefit. To help facilitate take up, applicants for Pension Credit who also want to claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit are sent a claim form to return to their local authority. We have recently also introduced a shortened version of this claim form for pensioners to make the process of claiming even easier.