The DWP has conducted an extensive campaign across TV, radio and social media, and with partner organisations, to boost pension credit take-up, with a number of pushes being made before cost of living payment deadlines. I am pleased to tell the House that that is working; applications were up by 75% in the year to May.
One of my Chelmsford constituents sent me a message that has been circulating recently. It suggests that asylum seekers are entitled to receive more in benefits than pensioners; I believe that is not accurate. For the record, will the Minister confirm what support is available for pensioners, compared with that for asylum seekers?
Let me reassure my right hon. Friend and her constituents that asylum seekers are given no recourse to public funds. They are given payment for their food and shelter, but they are unable to claim benefits. Pensioners in her constituency will receive a state pension, if they qualify, which for the first time is worth on average more than £200 per week or over £10,000 a year. Pensioners who have not built up sufficient contributions may be eligible for pension credits, worth on average £3,500 per year, to top up their income. They are also eligible to receive the cost of living payment, if they ever receive pension credit, and the pensioner cost of living payment.
Over the summer, I held events in villages across Wyre in my constituency. I was approached by many pensioners who are suffering because of the cost of living crisis; pension credit is just not plugging the gap. At my “Chat with Cat” event in Pilling, a constituent asked me why 400,000 more pensioners are living in poverty than when Labour left office. Will the Minister answer that question?