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PENSION CREDIT NOW HELPING OVER 80% OF POOREST PENSIONERS

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New figures for the number of pensioners receiving Pension Credit,...
New figures for the number of pensioners receiving Pension Credit,

taken with previous estimates of entitlement, indicate that over 80

per cent of the poorest pensioners are now having their income topped

up to the guaranteed level, which is at least£105 per week - rising

to£109 in April this year.

Amongst single women pensioners, who tend to be poorer than men of

the same age, the indications are that as many as 90% of those

eligible for the guarantee are already receiving their entitlement.

The figures, which have been released today by the Department for

Work and Pensions, show there are 2.08 million pensioner households

(or 2.46 million individuals) currently benefiting from Pension

Credit guarantee awards. Estimates of eligibility suggest that the

total number of pensioner households entitled to this part of Pension

Credit stands at 2.35 million.

This high level of take-up means Pension Credit spending is projected

to exceed£6bn in 2004/05 - higher than forecast in the last

Budget.

Work and pensions secretary Alan Johnson said: 'These

figures show beyond doubt that Pension Credit, is delivering for our

poorest pensioners.

'There are now over three million pensioners in receipt of Pension

Credit. The next stage is to concentrate effort on increasing take-up

among those in harder to reach groups - especially those who have

never been entitled to extra help before. We have a number of

initiatives to ensure the message gets out to all those who need to

hear it.

'These include the Race to Improve project, to target ethnic minority

groups, and the new Pension Service Partnership Fund, which provides

funding for schemes run by not-for-profit organisations around the

country.

'To ensure that pensioners do not lose out we have a twelve month

backdating provision, so many new claimants could be in line for a

lump sum payment, averaging around£1,000.'

Most of the pensioners getting Pension Credit guarantee - and some

other households - also get reward for their savings. The total

number of households benefiting from Pension Credit is now 2.65

million (3.22 million individuals). The average weekly award is

£41.67 and there were 1.99 million households (2.41 million

individuals) now receiving more money than under the previous system.

Pension Credit has been payable since 6th October 2003. To find out

if you may be entitled, ring the freephone Pension Credit application

line: on 0800 99 1234. There is a textphone service for those who

have speech or hearing difficulties on 0800 169 0133.

Notes

1. Pension Credit progress reports are published quarterly. Figures

have been rounded to the nearest 10,000.

2. To ensure that people do not lose out, customers whose

applications are successful will have their entitlement backdated 12

months or to the date of entitlement if this is later.

3. Pension Credit guarantees everyone aged 60 and over an income of

at least£105.45 for single people and£160.95 for couples. From

April, these amounts rise to£109.45 and£167.05.

4. Extra amounts will be added for those who have relevant housing

costs, severe disabilities or caring responsibilities. Rewards for

those who have saved are also additional.

5. Pension Credit application line on 0800 99 1234. There is a

textphone service for those who have hearing difficulties on 0800 169

0133.

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