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Pension Credit Claimants: Kettering

Volume 711: debated on Monday 21 March 2022

2. How many and what proportion of state pension claimants in Kettering constituency claim pension credit. (906169)

This Government provide more than £5 billion of pension credit. In August 2021, there were 1,864 people receiving pension credit in the Kettering constituency. That accounts for approximately 10% of those in receipt of the state pension in the Kettering constituency in broad terms.

Pension credit is largely unclaimed across the country; there could be 4,500 people in north Northamptonshire who are eligible but not claiming. Those who do claim it get extra help with council tax, heating bills, dental treatment and TV licences. Would the Minister be kind enough to join me in Kettering at an older persons fair that I am organising in the summer so that we can encourage the take-up of pension credit in the Kettering constituency?

Rumours had reached me of the Kettering older persons fair, which I believe is taking place on Friday 1 July. All roads lead to Kettering on that occasion. I would be honoured and privileged to attend to support my hon. Friend, who is a doughty champion of his constituency, and all the good charities, such as Age UK and Citizens Advice, that are working hard to get those numbers up, which is what we all want to do.

The Minister could have a busy summer ahead. Take-up of pension credit remains low: an estimated 850,000 pensioner households across the country are not receiving the help that they are entitled to. The Department could feasibly work out who those households are and simply make them an award of pension credit. Given the scale of the current cost of living crisis, will the Department commit to an ambitious target for increasing the take-up of pension credit across the country and to a much more ambitious campaign to promote it?

I hate to disagree with the Chair of the Select Committee but he is wrong. As he knows, because he did this job in 2007-08, the Department does not know the exact numbers of a means-tested benefit that was set up by Gordon Brown specifically for circumstances where there is not the capability of saying exactly who can apply. The right hon. Gentleman is also wrong, however, that the stats are going up, not down, because they are up on the main income element.

The right hon. Gentleman is shaking his head, but he is wrong: they have gone up from 70% to 73%.

Huge efforts are also being made by the Department in the form of the work with the BBC and the utility companies, the pension credit taskforce, and all the letters that were written only this morning. I wrote to the right hon. Gentleman’s local paper and to that of the shadow Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Leicester South (Jonathan Ashworth), to set out what we are doing to try to get people to take up pension credit and why we want everybody to do so.