Reform pension credit, urges charity

Rising prices and restricted credit is forcing more than 50% of older people to cut back on essentials such as food and heating, and pushing one in 12 into debt, Age Concern has warned.

The charity reports that 66% of pensioners are cutting back on the amount of gas and electricity they use while just over 50% are cutting back on their weekly food budget.

In light of the research, Age Concern is calling on the government to take action now to help pensioners, by encouraging the take-up of pension credit.

Pension credit, a benefit for older people on low incomes, was introduced on 6 October 2003, yet according to the Department of Work and Pensions, nearly two million people are still missing out.

One proposal to encourage greater take-up is introducing a new system of automatic payments.

Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, says: "It is deeply wrong that billions of pounds in benefits cash is failing to reach the poorest pensioners at a time when thousands are feeling forced to cut back on essentials such as food and fuel.

"There can be no doubt that current measures to tackle the scourge of pensioner poverty are falling pitifully short of the mark. Pension credit has the potential to lift hundreds of thousands of pensioners out of poverty, but will remain more flagging than flagship without urgent action to reform the faltering benefits system.”

Beat the pension credit deadline