§ Mr. McLoughlin
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners he estimates have yet to apply through the Pension Credit scheme in(a) West Derbyshire, (b) the East Midlands and (c) the UK; and what efforts are being made to simplify the Pension Credit process to make it easier for pensioners to claim their entitlement.
§ Malcolm Wicks
The information is not available in the form requested, but we estimate that around 300,000 pensioner households in the East Midlands region and around 3.8 million pensioner households in Great Britain are eligible for Pension Credit. The table gives the numbers of pensioner households and individuals in West Derbyshire, the East Midlands and Great Britain receiving Pension Credit at 17 October 2003. The number of pensioner households in Great Britain receiving Pension Credit had increased to approximately 1.97 million by 31 October.
The application process for Pension Credit has been designed to be straightforward for pensioners and their family and friends, who may apply on their behalf. The Pension Credit application line (0800 99 1234), which is the main method of applying, is working well and has taken over 1.3 million calls (to the end of October) since it became operational on 7 April. The Pension Service is able to offer alternative ways of applying to suit individual circumstances, including a textphone number 417W and a paper application form. We are working closely with partner organisations to ensure that they can obtain paper application forms, through the Pension Service's local service, for those who want them. The local service can also arrange to see pensioners face-to-face either in a local surgery or, where appropriate, in the pensioner's home.
We continue to review and improve the application process in the light of experience.
Pension Credit recipients at 17 October 2003 Area Pension Credit Pension pensioner households Pension Credit individuals West Derbyshire parliamentary constituency 2,185 2.505 East Midlands Government Office Region(GOR) 130,935 155,725 Great Britain 1,902,715 2,247,605
1. Figures in the table have been rounded to the nearest five.
2. The parliamentary constituency and the GOR are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant ONS postcode directory.
IAD Information Centre, Generalised Matching Service, 100 per cent. sample.