MP SUPPORTS CAMPAIGN TO END PENSIONER POVERTY
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MP SUPPORTS CAMPAIGN TO END PENSIONER POVERTY

The government is being urged to improve aspects of support for pensioners after a meeting between local MP Sir Peter Luff and clients and staff of Age UK in the organisation’s Evesham offices. The meeting last Friday was part of Age UK’s campaign to end pensioner poverty.

The issues raised with Sir Peter included concerns about complexity of forms, the lack of clarity around what benefits could be claimed, and the unintended consequences of the new single tier pension.

After the meeting Sir Peter commented,

“This government has done a lot to protect the interests of pensioners, especially through the so-called “triple lock” on pensions. This means that the state pension will always rise by whichever of annual earnings growth, inflation or a 2.5% baseline is highest.

“This meeting, though, showed me that there is still more that needs to be done.
Two Age UK advisers and six of their clients spoke to me very frankly about the difficulties facing older people at the moment.

“I have written to the government minister responsible with their suggestions for changes to the current system."

In his letter to the minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, Sir Peter explained the difficulties of older people being aware of the benefits that they can claim. He said that much better promotion is need along with greater access to advice for older people on what they can claim and how to do it.

He went on to say that,

“Those I met with complained about the complexity of forms like HC1 for help with health costs and said that that the form for claiming Attendance Allowance was gobbledygook and required expert help to fill in accurately.

“They also said that although many of the staff were charming on the DWP phone lines, the telephone numbers changed too often and that advisors use complex language and often sound very authoritative.

“The complexity and authoritative tone are particularly a problem for elderly and frail individuals, who are often confused about life and frightened by authority.

“There is a particular need to provide advice for clients who are suffering from dementia or multiple sensory deprivation. I have to say, I found their arguments convincing.

“There were also specific concerns about the cliff edge for pension credit, with someone who was a pound over the threshold, not only losing pension credit but, because it is a passport benefit, losing housing benefit and council tax benefit too. In this context they actually feared the introduction of the new single tier pension and its higher payment rate because it could lead to an increase in poverty, as more and more people left no longer eligible for housing benefit or council tax benefit, despite receiving a higher pension. Ironically the new single tier pension could work against the interests of reducing pensioner poverty.”

ENDS


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