THE failure to deliver Pension Credit to those entitled to it costs the NHS and care services in Blaenau Gwent £6.9 million every year, according to older people’s charity Independent Age.
More than 1,977 households in Blaenau Gwent that are entitled to Pension Credit do not receive the benefit.
New research commissioned by Independent Age shows that across Britain, the result of those eligible for Pension Credit not receiving it is an estimated £4 billion per year in taxpayer money for the NHS and care services.
This significantly outstrips the £2.2 billion it would cost annually to ensure pensioners receive the Pension Credit to which they are entitled.
Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith is backing Independent Age’s call for the Government to put in place a plan detailing how it will work to increase the uptake of Pension Credit over the next five years.
Nick Smith MP said: “The knock-on effects are costing taxpayers £6.9 million in Blaenau Gwent alone.
“This report from Independent Age shows that making sure that those who are entitled to Pension Credit receive it is not only the right thing to do for those pensioners, but also the right thing to do for taxpayers.
“The Government must stop blaming older people for this problem and put a plan in place to make sure this benefit reaches those who are entitled to it.”
Mr Smith previously spoke about this same issue, pointing out that claiming pension credit comes with other benefits such as free-TV licences for the over 75s.
“Ultimately I believe the Tories should restore free TV licences for everyone over-75 as they pledged to do in their 2017 manifesto,” said Mr Smith.
“However, thanks to the Government offloading this responsibility to the BBC it means that only those who claim Pension Credit can now get a free TV licence.
“It’s worth applying even if you only get a few extra pounds a week. There are lots of extra entitlements that come with it – like free NHS dental treatment and check-ups, free sight tests, vouchers for glasses and contact lenses, help with travel costs to and from hospital and Cold Weather Payments.”
Morgan Vine, Head of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, said: “Taxpayers are unnecessarily footing the bill for an extra £6.9 million of extra health and care costs in Blaenau Gwent – when it would be significantly less expensive to simply ensuring people receive the Pension Credit to which they are entitled.
“A take-up rate of only 61% for an entitlement designed to keep older people out of poverty is indefensible – and this rate has stayed stagnant for a decade. Without this money, many people are prevented from living with dignity and having a social, well-connected later life.
“We’re delighted that Nick Smith is supporting Independent Age’s call for the Government to take decisive, immediate action to find out why people are not receiving Pension Credit and to implement an action plan to improve the situation.”