HC Deb 07 June 2004 vol 422 cc19-20
17. Paul Flynn (Newport, West) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on the take-up of pension credit. [177328]

The Minister for Pensions (Malcolm Wicks)

As the progress report published today shows, 2.5 million households—including 3 million individuals—are now receiving the pension credit. This includes just short of 4,000 pensioner households in my hon. Friend's constituency.

Paul Flynn

That Is a very good story, but there is one curious aspect to it, as reflected in the answer that my hon. Friend gave to me a few months ago—and that is the percentage take-up between urban and rural areas. In the prosperous rural areas, the increase in the take-up this year was 43 per cent., but in the poorer rural areas it was a mere 31 per cent. and just 19 per cent. in London. Has the Minister given some thought to that and to how he will conduct future campaigns to concentrate on the urban areas, where the need is almost certainly greater?

Malcolm Wicks

We are studying reasons for variations of the sort illustrated by my hon. Friend and I shall report back when we have some firm conclusions. However, a local pension service allows us to tailor the campaigns to local circumstances. I am happy to talk to him about how we might better do that, although the local pension service is doing an excellent job in his constituency.