Edinburgh pensioners miss out on £20 million of benefits

Thousands of Edinburgh’s poorest pensioners are missing out on more than £20 million in unclaimed Pension Credit, a leading charity has revealed.

Monday, 1st July 2019, 4:34 pm
Pension credit is a vital lifeline for many poorer older people
Pension credit is a vital lifeline for many poorer older people

Independent Age estimates there are over 7000 households in the Capital entitled to the financial top-up who are not receiving it.

Across Scotland, more than £300 million of the income-related benefit is going unclaimed by 123,000 households. The charity says because of the poor take-up, an unacceptable number of older people are having to juggle between paying for food or fuel.

And it is calling on the UK government to reform the benefit to make sure everyone who is entitled to the money receives it.

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Reasons why people do not claim benefits include a lack of awareness of the benefit and the stigma of receiving a benefit.

According to the charity, Edinburgh East had the largest number of pensioners not claiming Pension Credit at 1915, resulting in over £5.5m lost to local people; Edinburgh North and Leith was next with 1543 people failing to claim £4.7m; Edinburgh South West had an estimated 1401 people missing out on £4m; in Edinburgh South, 1243 pensioners failed to claim £3.5m; and in Edinburgh West, 1219 people missed out on £3.25m.

Independent Age said Pension Credit was a vital lifeline for many people and one of the most important safety nets for the poorest older people in society.

A spokesman said: “Pension Credit makes a major difference to the lives of older people, enabling them to afford the very basics and to live with more independence and dignity.”

The charity accused the UK government of a lack of ambition and called for a commitment to getting take-up to 75 per cent by the end of 2020, 95 per cent by 2022 and 100 per cent by 2025.

Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray backed the call to improve take-up.

He said: “The last Labour Government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown cut pensioner poverty, but the Tories have disgracefully allowed it to go up on their watch.

“It is deeply concerning that Edinburgh’s poorest pensioners are missing out on more than £20m in vital support.

“Across the UK the poorest pensioners have missed out on £7 billion of Pension Credit since the last election, which means vulnerable people are being left without much-needed income.

“Rather than talking up the terrifying prospect of a no-deal Brexit, the Tories should focus on the most vulnerable in society and do more to increase take-up of Pension Credit.”

More information is available from the Independent Age helpline on 0800 319 6789.