To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to inform pensioners of the support and benefits available to them; and if he will make a statement.
The Department automatically writes to people four months before their state pension age and provides them with information on how to claim state pension. When a customer claims state pension, or reports a change in their circumstances, a customer adviser will discuss a pension credit application with those who may appear eligible. For winter fuel, over 95% of payments are made automatically without the customer having to make a claim. Pensioners claiming pension credit can also claim housing benefit and council tax benefit in a single free phone call.
The Department provides the unique opportunity to join up local community services by providing access to a range of non benefit-related services in support of well-being, independence and the later life agenda. Also, DWP is actively involved with around 4,000 local community partnerships across England, Scotland and Wales which provide a wide range of advice and support for pensioners. We have also developed a free pension credit toolkit for local organisations working with older people to use. The toolkit provides a range of resources to help advise workers and volunteers to understand more about who may be eligible for pension credit, how to identify potential customers and guide them through the application process.
As more and more people go online, the Government’s website:
www.direct.gov.uk is an increasingly significant method for providing information to pensioners, on the support and benefits available to them. This is supplemented by information in leaflets, letters and a local visiting service for more vulnerable customers.