This week in Parliament Gerald Jones, MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, urged the UK Government to take immediate action over the Pension Credit scandal, the means-tested benefit designed to help pensioners living in poverty.
As many as 3,220 households in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney constituency are missing out on £5.9 million in Pension Credit, averaging £49 per week, and Gerald Jones urged the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, to indicate what the Government is doing to raise awareness and improve take-up of the benefit.
Many pensioners are currently living in poverty in Merthyr Tydfil and the Upper Rhymney Valley and across Wales, and without the benefit are struggling to pay for utility bills or their weekly shop.
Currently only 2 in 5 households (61%) entitled to the benefit are receiving it, totalling over a million pensioners missing out on money which adds up to £3.5 billion, or £200 million for households in Wales.
When the BBC’s policy of free TV licences for people aged 75 and over ends in June this year, only pensioners claiming the Pension Credit benefit will then be eligible for the concession, with any pensioner who’s eligible but not claiming the benefit due to be forced to pay the full licence fee, and Gerald is working to raise awareness of the benefit as far as possible before the policy is scrapped in three months’ time.
Speaking in Parliament, Gerald said:
“Almost £6 million of pension credit was unclaimed in my constituency—we are talking about more than 3,000 households—and the figure for Wales was more than £200 million.
“It is shocking and totally unacceptable that the take-up rate has now fallen to 61% since last year, and I urge the Government to make a statement or bring forward a debate immediately to show what it is doing to increase awareness and take-up of Pension Credit.”