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Pensioners still missing out on benefits

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More needs to be done to boost the take up of benefits by pensioners if old age poverty is to be eliminated, the National Audit Office (NAO) has claimed.

The NAO said the number of pensioners in poverty had fallen from 27% in 1994 to 17% in 2005.

It added that the Pension Credit had been influential in reducing the amount of pensioners in poverty, and said that in 2004-05, £6 billion was paid out in Pension Credit to 2.7 million pensioners across England, Scotland and Wales. This represents between 61 per cent and 69 per cent of those that were eligible for the benefits, and was 1 million more households than those which claimed its predecessor benefit, the Minimum Income Guarantee.

The NAO that the Pension Service had made real and substantial progress since 2002 in helping pensioners to claim benefits, but said the Pension Service needed to build on this work further improve take-up.

Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, said: “The Department has made significant progress in encouraging pensioners to take-up the benefits they are entitled to. Reaching those who are still not claiming is a formidable challenge, and requires the use of a number of different approaches, tailored to meet the needs of particular groups.

“I am pleased to see that more than one million more households receive Pension Credit than received its predecessor. Similar progress with other benefits should be the next step in pursuit of further progress towards what must be the overall goal: reducing pensioner poverty.”

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