HL Deb 27 October 2003 vol 654 cc14-5WA
Lord Taylor of Warwick

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why only 73 per cent of those who applied for pension credit in October 2003 are expected to receive it by October 2006. [HL4851]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham)

The Government have a target for at least 3 million pensioner households to be in receipt of pension credit by 2006 (75 per cent of eligible pensioner households). However, we want all those eligible for pension credit to take up their entitlement. That is why we have designed the application process to be straightforward. All pensioners need do is telephone the pension credit application line, where details of their application will be taken. Calls are free apart from some mobiles. The application form is then sent to the customer to check, sign and return.

The Pension Service is writing to every pensioner household to tell them about pension credit and to help them decide whether to apply. To support this process we are running a major TV and press advertising campaign. Specific advertising has been targeted at harder to reach groups such as carers and ethnic minorities. These include adverts on black and ethnic minority radio and TV stations, and in ethnic newspapers and magazines. Our local service is working closely with local partners such as Age Concern and Help the Aged to help ensure eligible pensioners take up their entitlement to pension credit.

All those who apply before October 2004, if they are entitled, will receive payment as though they had claimed at the very start, or to the first day they could have qualified if this is later.

We have already made 1.9 million awards of pension credit to pensioner households (over 2 million individuals). Of these, over 1.1 million pensioner households (over 1.3 million people) are getting more money than they did before.