MP and charity call for Government action on Pension Credit after 1,000 households in the South Lakes miss out on support
Local MP Tim Farron has teamed up with the charity Independent Age to urge the Government to act after new figures revealed that 1,205 households in Westmorland and Lonsdale who are entitled to Pension Credit - designed to keep the least well-off pensioners out of poverty - are missing out on receiving the benefit.
Currently, just six in 10 (61%) people in the UK who are entitled to this payment are receiving it - leaving many forced to choose between heating and eating.
According to new research commissioned by Independent Age, the failure to deliver Pension Credit to those entitled to it is costing the NHS and social care systems in Westmorland and Lonsdale £4.2 million every year.
Tim is backing Independent Age's 'Credit Where It's Due' campaign, calling for the Government to put in place an ambitious, publicly available action plan detailing how it will work to increase the uptake of Pension Credit over the next five years.
Tim said: "I'm deeply concerned about the high number of older people in the South Lakes who are not receiving the Pension Credit to which they're entitled, and I'm pleased to be backing Independent Age's call for the Government to urgently put in place an action plan to turn this situation around.
"The knock-on effects on the NHS and care systems are costing local taxpayers millions.
"The Government's action plan needs to include a fresh look at roles and responsibilities relating to Pension Credit, putting a stop to blaming older people for this problem."
Morgan Vine, Head of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, said: "Taxpayers are unnecessarily footing the bill for an extra £4.2 million of extra health and care costs in Westmorland and Lonsdale - when it would be significantly less expensive to simply ensuring people receive the Pension Credit to which they are entitled.
"A take-up rate of only 61% for an entitlement designed to keep older people out of poverty is indefensible - and this rate has stayed stagnant for a decade. Without this money, many people are prevented from living with dignity and having a social, well-connected later life.
"We're delighted that Tim is supporting Independent Age's call for the Government to take decisive, immediate action to find out why people are not receiving Pension Credit and to implement an action plan to improve the situation."