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COUNCIL TAX AND HOUSING BENEFIT TAKE-UP

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The Department for Work and Pensions today published the latest estimates of the take-up of the main income related...
The Department for Work and Pensions today published the latest estimates of the take-up of the main income related benefits in Great

Britain: Income Support, Minimum Income Guarantee, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance (Income-Based) and for the first time, Pension Credit, which was introduced in October 2003. The publication provides estimates for 2003/2004 and re-presents estimates for 2002/2003.

Take-up is measured in two ways: by caseload and by expenditure.

Caseload take-up compares the number of benefit recipients - averaged over the year - with the number who would be receiving if everyone took up their entitlement for the full period of their entitlement.

Expenditure take-up compares the total amount of benefit received, in the course of a year, with the total amount that would be received if everyone took up their entitlement for the full period of their entitlement. So take-up would reach 100 per cent only if all those eligible claimed, and did so for the full duration of their entitlement.

In addition to the main take-up statistics for all income related benefits, the latest publication includes some further analysis of the characteristics of those that did not take-up their entitlements and presents patterns in take-up between 1997/1998 and 2003/2004.

All figures in this publication exclude the full-time self-employed and relate to private households only (see note 4 in Notes for Editors). Statements on changes in take-up refer to changes in take-up as a percentage of entitlement, not to changes in numbers of recipients or total amounts received.

Key results are:

Pension Credit Take-up

Total Pension Credit take-up in the last six months of 2003/2004 was in the range of 58 per cent and 66 per cent by caseload (please refer to notes 6, 7 and 8 in Notes for Editors) and 68 per cent and 76 per cent by expenditure.

Total amount of Pension Credit unclaimed was between #1,630 million and #2,370 million. The average number of people entitled to Pension Credit and yet not claiming it was between 1.26 million and 1.84 million. In contrast, there were 2.49 million people claiming #4,950 million of Pension Credit. This means that there were an extra 800 thousand claimants of Pension Credit in respect of the last 6 months of 2003/2004 compared to those receiving Minimum Income Guarantee in the first 6 months of 2003/2004.

Guarantee Credit only between 170 and 320 thousand people were not claiming benefit entitled to them, representing a percentage take-up of between 69 per cent and 81 per cent by caseload.

Guarantee and Savings Credit caseload take-up was between 63 per cent and 73 per cent in 2003/2004 and there were between 460 and 730 thousand people not claiming benefit they were entitled to; this compared to 1.23 million people claiming this element of Pension Credit.

Savings Credit only between 630 and 960 thousand people were not claiming the savings element of Pension Credit, representing a caseload take-up percentage of between 36 per cent and 46 per cent.

Among pensioners judged, on an initial assessment, to be entitled to Pension Credit in 2003/2004 and not claiming it: (see note 14)

- Nearly one-third were assessed as entitled to under #10 per week,

16 per cent to under #5 per week.

- Over half were aged 75 or over.

- Nearly two-thirds were owner-occupiers and one-fifth were renting local authority accommodation.

- Over one-quarter were in receipt of Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance.

- Over nine in ten single pensioners reported other income (besides Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit) of over #105 per week; for couple pensioners, four fifths had income exceeding #150 per week.

- Just over half lived in low income households - below 60 per cent of the median income of the population as a whole, on the 'income before housing costs' measure; a similar proportion is seen after housing costs are deducted.

Minimum Income Guarantee Take-up (pensioners)

Total Minimum Income Guarantee take-up in the first 6 months of

2003/2004 was in the range 62 per cent to 74 per cent (please refer to notes 6 and 7 in Notes for Editors) by caseload and 73 per cent to

85 per cent by expenditure.

Take-up of Minimum Income Guarantee by pensioners in the first 6 months of 2003/2004 appeared to be lower than take-up of Income Support by non-pensioners in 2003/2004 - see note 8 in Notes for Editors. This result stands for both caseload and expenditure measures of take-up.

Total amount of Minimum Income Guarantee left unclaimed was between #770 million and #1,580 million. The average number of pensioners entitled to Minimum Income Guarantee and yet not claiming it was between 0.58 million and 1.02 million. This compares to 1.67 million people receiving #4,200 million worth of Minimum Income Guarantee.

Comparisons between 2002/2003 and the first 6 months of 2003/2004, for pensioners, are complicated by a rise in MIG rates, relative to Retirement Pension in April 2003. These changes significantly increased the number of pensioners entitled to Minimum Income Guarantee. Among pensioners who would have been entitled to MIG even without the April 2003 increases, caseload take-up rose, possibly by

2 to 3 percentage points, between 2002/2003 and the first 6 months of 2003/2004. However, a lower rate of take-up among those newly entitled to MIG meant that for the aggregate take-up rate there was no clear change for all pensioners.

Patterns in take-up over time point to no clear change in aggregate take-up between 1997/1998 and 2003/2004 - though it is difficult to be certain due to changing biases. Analysis of take-up among only those pensioners who would have been entitled even if Income Support/Minimum Income Guarantee benefit rates had not been increased in real terms, between 1997/1998 and 2003/2004, suggests a rise, of possibly over 10 percentage points.

Income Support Take-up (non-pensioners)

Total Income Support take-up in 2003/2004 was in the range 86 per cent to 95 per cent (please refer to notes 6 and 7 in Notes for

Editors) by caseload and 90 per cent to 97 per cent by expenditure.

Overall, take-up of Income Support showed no change between 2002/2003 and 2003/2004, on both caseload and expenditure measures.

Total amount of Income Support left unclaimed was between #290 million and #1,080 million. The average number of people entitled to Income Support and yet not claiming it was between 0.11 million and

0.34 million. This compares to 2.14 million people that claimed #10,030 million worth of Income Support.

By family type, take-up of Income Support appeared to be lower among non-pensioners without children and higher for non-pensioners with children, by both caseload and expenditure measures. Take-up of Income Support was probably highest among lone parents, at between 92 per cent and 100 per cent by caseload and between 94 per cent and 100 per cent by expenditure.

Patterns in take-up over time, since 1997/1998, suggest that there has been no clear change in take-up overall among non-pensioners.

Housing Benefit Take-up

Total Housing Benefit take-up in 2003/2004 was in the range 84 per cent to 90 per cent by caseload and 88 per cent to 93 per cent by expenditure. These estimates may understate take-up to some degree - see notes 6, 7 and 9 in Notes for Editors.

Overall, take-up of Housing Benefit showed a possible slight rise between 2002/2003 and 2003/2004, measured by either caseload or expenditure, though we can not be certain.

Total amount of Housing Benefit left unclaimed by entitled people was between #760 million and #1,420 million. The average number of people leaving this benefit unclaimed was in the range of 0.41 million to 0.70 million. The total amount claimed was #10,180 million, claimed by 3.80 million recipients.

By family type, take-up of Housing Benefit was highest among lone

parents: between 93 per cent and 100 per cent by caseload and 94 per cent and 100 per cent by expenditure.

Take-up showed no change for pensioners and a slight rise for non-pensioners between 2002/2003 and 2003/2004.

By tenure type, though we cannot be certain, take-up among local authority tenants appears to have been higher than renters of private accommodation. Between 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 take-up showed no clear change by those in local authority accommodation and an increase of around 2 to 3 percentage points for private tenants.

Entitled non-recipients tended to have smaller entitlements to Housing Benefit than recipients. It appears that take-up of Housing Benefit was higher among those who claimed other income-related benefits.

Patterns in take-up over time, since 1997/1998, indicate that take-up of Housing Benefit fell significantly, by around 7 percentage points.

Among pensioners there was a fall in take-up of up to 5 percentage points, though among the subset that were entitled in 1997/1998 and would have been in 2003/2004 regardless of real increases in benefit rates, take-up changed little. Among non-pensioners, take-up fell since 1997/1998 by 5 to 8 percentage points.

Council Tax Benefit Take-up

Total Council Tax Benefit take-up for 2003/2004 was in the range 63 per cent to 68 per cent by caseload and 65 per cent to 71 per cent by expenditure. These estimates may understate take-up to some degree - see notes 6, 7 and note 9 in Notes for Editors.

Overall, the evidence suggests a fall in take-up of Council Tax Benefit between 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 when measured by either caseload or expenditure.

Total amount of Council Tax Benefit left unclaimed by entitled non-recipients was in the range #1,160 million to #1,550 million. The average number of people entitled yet not claiming was between 2.17 million and 2.78 million. There were 4.64 million recipients accounting for #2,910 million of Council Tax Benefit.

By family type, take-up of Council Tax Benefit appeared to be lowest among pensioners: 53 per cent to 59 per cent by caseload and 56 per cent to 63 per cent by expenditure; it was highest among lone

parents: 87 per cent to 95 per cent by caseload and 88 per cent to 96 per cent by expenditure.

There appears to have been a slight fall in take-up by both pensioners and non-pensioners between 2002/2003 and 2003/2004.

By tenure type, take-up was highest among local authority tenants: 87 per cent to 92 per cent by caseload and 89 per cent to 94 per cent by expenditure. Take-up was lowest among owner-occupiers: 35 per cent to 40 per cent by caseload and 39 per cent to 45 per cent by expenditure.

The weekly entitlements of Council Tax Benefit were lower than those of other income-related benefits, the average weekly unclaimed amount being #10.50. It appears that, among renters, recipients of Council Tax Benefit were more likely to receive Housing Benefit than were entitled non-recipients of Council Tax Benefit.

Patterns in take-up over time, show there was a fall in the overall rate of take-up, of 8, and possibly over 10, percentage points between 1997/1998 and 2003/2004. Among pensioners there was a downward trend in take-up of 10 or more percentage points since 1997/1998. Among only those pensioners who would have been entitled if Council Tax Benefit rates had not been increased in real terms, between 1997/1998 and 2003/2004, take-up fell by a lesser extent, of up to 5 percentage points. There was a fall in take-up of 4-8 percentage points among non-pensioners.

Jobseeker's Allowance (Income-Based) Take-up

Total Jobseeker's Allowance (Income-Based) Take-up in 2003/2004 was between 50 per cent and 61 per cent by caseload and between 59 per cent and 70 per cent by expenditure - see notes 6 and 7 in Notes for Editors.

Overall, there was no clear change in take-up between 2002/2003 and 2003/2004. Take-up appeared to be lowest for single females between

42 per cent and 54 per cent by caseload and between 45 per cent and

62 per cent by expenditure.

Total amount of Jobseeker's Allowance (Income-Based) left unclaimed in 2003/2004 was between #790 million and #1,310 million. The average number of people entitled yet not claiming was in the range 0.33 million to 0.51 million. There were 0.50 million recipients of Jobseeker's Allowance (Income-Based), accounting for #1,850 million of benefit.

By family type, around half of those entitled to but not claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (Income-Based) were single people under the age of 25. Among single non-claimants, 72 per cent of males and 70 per cent of females were young (under 25) and living in someone else's household. Further analysis of these showed nearly three-quarters of single females and males were young people living with their parents.

Considering all entitled non-claimants, around three-quarters were in households in the bottom fifth of the income distribution.

Patterns in take-up over time, since 1997/1998, show that there has been a trend fall in the overall take-up of Jobseeker's Allowance

(IB) of around 10 percentage points.

Overall take-up

Taking all six benefits together, there was between #4,200 million and #7,335 million left unclaimed in 2003/2004; this compares to

#29,545 million that was claimed and represents take-up by expenditure of between about 80 per cent and 88 per cent. An approximate aggregate estimate of take-up by caseload would be between 70 per cent and 77 per cent.

Notes

1.'Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up in 2003/2004' is a National Statistics publication and is produced to high professional standards outlined in the National Statistics Code of Practice.

National Statistics publications undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. The full National Statistics Press Notice which includes tables containing results featured in the publication can be accessed at the DWP website:

2. '#' is equivalent to pounds in this press notice.

3. 'Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up in 2003/2004' is a National Statistics publication, released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP): ISBN 1-84388-679-0. Questions about the figures can be referred to Carly Gray (020 7712 2143) of the DWP Incomes Monitoring Division, Department for Work and Pensions, 4th Floor, The Adelphi, 1-11 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HT. Requests for copies of the publication should be directed to this address. Alternatively, a copy of the publication in PDF format is available via the DWP internet site: http:www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/irb.asp. Questions about DWP policy should be referred to DWP press office (020 7238 0866).

4. These estimates cover only people living in private households - i.e. they do not cover people in residential care and nursing homes nor those in bed and breakfast accommodation - because the Family Resources Survey (the main source of information for estimating entitled non-recipients) is a survey of private households only.

Also, the estimates do not coverfull time self-employed people because information from the survey on the incomes of these people is not sufficient for an accurate assessment of their entitlement to income-related benefits.

5. Counts of recipients and entitled non-recipients refer to numbers of benefit units; a benefit unit is a single adult or couple, together with any dependent children. The data used to estimate take-up comes from two main sources. Counts of the numbers of benefit recipients are taken from the DWP's own administrative records. The numbers of benefit units not taking up their entitlement to benefit are estimated using the sample of households from the Family Resources Survey - an annual survey conducted for the DWP which achieves a response from about 29 thousand households. Estimates relate to financial years, i.e. years from April to the following March and to the private household (see note 4) population in Great Britain.

6. Estimates of take-up are presented as ranges within which true take-up is expected to lie. These 'ranges of true take-up' account for biases that may be present in estimates from data that is less than perfect. Initial estimates have, as far as possible, been adjusted for possible biases. The ranges also account for the effects of sampling variation or sampling error (see note 10).

7. Estimates of the total amount of benefit claimed, and the total number of benefit recipients, exclude cases of claims being processed but not yet settled. Some of these claims will result in awards of benefit. It is believed that estimates of the number recipients of all income related benefits; particularly Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit are understated because of a backlog of claims waiting to be processed. For Pension Credit, we have been able to identify the number of pensioners who received a backdated amount in respect of 2003/2004, and have amended both our recipient count, and the number of entitled non-recipients accordingly. For Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, no such data exists to allow us to adjust our recipient and entitled non-recipient counts, therefore our Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit take-up estimates may be further depressed.

8. The DWP research report No: 197 'Entitled but not claiming?

Pensioners, the Minimum Income Guarantee and Pension Credit' provides evidence of significant under-reporting of capital holdings by pensioners responding to the Family Resources Survey (FRS). Estimates of Minimum Income Guarantee and Pension Credit have been adjusted to take account of this potentially large source of bias.

9. It is possible that the problem of under-reporting of capital by pensioners (see note 8) may extend to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. If so, the estimates of take-up for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit would be understated. However, there is currently no information to ascertain the extent of this effect. Therefore, no adjustment for capital mis-reporting has been performed forthese benefits.

10. Sampling variation or sampling error is the uncertainty in an estimate due to taking a random sample of the population that may not reflect the characteristics of the whole population. The Family Resources Survey is a random sample from the private household population which means estimates of take-up are affected by sampling variation.

11. Care should be taken when interpreting changes in take-up over time because it is not possible to identify a single estimate of true take-up. Year on year changes in the ranges do not necessarily mean that the true level of take-up has changed.

12. To allow reliable estimates to be produced, figures for 'couples with children' and 'couples' relating to Income Support and 'couples with children' for Jobseeker's Allowance have been based on a combination of two years' data.

13. Due to Pension Credit replacing Minimum Income Guarantee mid-way through 2003/2004, results for Minimum Income Guarantee and Pension Credit are based on 6 months' data and should be treated with caution; as a result of being based on only six months' data, the figures have been annualised to make it easier to compare results across different benefits. Therefore, estimates of amounts unclaimed do not represent the actual amounts of unpaid Minimum Income Guarantee and Pension Credit over 2003/2004

14. The DWP research report 'Encouraging take-up: awareness of and attitudes to Pension Credit' identifies reasons as to why some pensioners were not taking up Pension Credit and also identifies steps DWP could take to remove these barriers. A summary of the report can be found at:

http:www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/summ2005-2006/234summ.pdf

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