Pension credit 'got off to a good start'

The Guardian

November 11, 2003

More than 1.4 million pensioners are getting more money each week under the new pension credit, government figures showed today. 
The Department for Work and Pensions said around 2.3 million people were now receiving the credit, which aims to reward people who have saved for their retirement. 

It said the average amount paid out during the first month since the benefit was launched on October 6 was 47.10 a week for each household. 

Overall, two-thirds of the 1.8 million households who were eligible for the minimum income guarantee (MIG), which the pension credit has replaced, were an average of 6.65 a week better off, while a further 93,000 households who could not previously claim MIG had gained around 9.50. 

But the number of people claiming the benefit is still far short of the four million households the Government estimates are eligible for it. 

It has set a target of having three million households claim it by 2006 and has set up a helpline on 0800 169 0133 to help people apply for it. 
Work and pensions secretary Andrew Smith said: "I am pleased that pension credit has got off to a good start, with already 1.4 million pensioners better off than they were under the old system. 

"I urge any pensioners who think they may be eligible to ring the application line. I want every pensioner to get their entitlement." 

There are two elements to the pension credit: a minimum income guarantee and an additional payment which rewards people according to their savings. 

Around 1.9 million households will also qualify for help with council tax and rent under the benefit. 

Richard Wilson of Help the Aged said: "It is welcome news that thousands of pensioners have responded to the launch of the pension credit. 
"The Government still has a huge task ahead if it is to make a success of the pension credit. 

"The Government's target of 75% of eligible people in receipt of the benefit by 2006 would still leave over a million pensioners excluded. It must set a much tougher target - at least 90% - to ensure the pension credit does not fail to reach the most vulnerable." 

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