HC Deb 04 March 2002 vol 381 cc21-2W
33. Dr. Julian Lewis

To ask the secretary of state for work and Pensions if he will made a statement on the take-up of income-related benefits by pensioner. [36359]

Dr. McCartney

This government want all pensioners to have a decent income in retirememt and is commited to ensuring that those poorer pensioners who are eligible for the receipt of Minimum Income guarantee (MIG) can achieve their legal entitlememt.

As a result of the national MIG take-up campaign launched in May 2000 there have been an additional 243,793 claims of which 127,371 have been successful providing these pensioners with an extra £20 a week on average. In total, over 1.7 million pensioners are now receiving the MIG, 3500 of whom live in the New Forest, East constituency.

We have produced a new leaflet that explains who is entitled to MIG and how to claim, launched the new 10-page claim form, and set up the MIG Tele-Centre. All of these measures make it easier for pensioners to understand their entitlement and make a claim.

We are following this up, and from October 2001 when a customer applies for their retirement pension those who are not already receiving MIG are asked a series of questions to identify if they may be entitled and encouraged to claim if they wish to do so.

We are looking at a number of options to extend this service so that a claim to MIG will be invited automatically following certain key life events, for example when a pensioner reaches age 75 or 80 or when another benefit such as attendance allowance is awarded.

We are also working in partnership with organisations for older people to improve access to benefits and take up of MIG.