Friday, May 18, 2007

Pensioner poverty

Up to 1.6 million eligible pensioners are still not in receipt of pension credit, therefore £2.1billion is left unclaimed. Take-up of Housing and Council Tax benefits are also declining. And I am sure Gordon Brown is laughing all the way to No. 10 thinking of the savings and inviting his private equity pals around for drinkies.

One of the many reasons for the lack of take-up is probably due to the bureaucratic, unhelpful and complex nature of the benefits system. There’s also a lack of information, support and encouragement. Therefore this becomes a massive obstacle and disincentive for pensioners to apply or indeed anyone else who is entitled to benefits. And what is worse pension credit and many other benefits are means tested.

With the current attacks on welfare there has been the stoking of the flames perpetuated by New Labour with negative stereotypes of claimants ("feckless poor") and this will have a severe impact as it will scare, distress and ultimately deter people from applying for benefits they have every right to claim.

New Labour tackling poverty? Who are they trying to kid...

5 comments:

mueja said...

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AN said...

I found out today an estimate that among migrnbt workers, 80% are eligible for Working Tax Credit, but take up is around 5%.

This is partly because they have too fill out a 45 page form in Englich, and of course New Labour has cut funding for ESOL!!!

Louisefeminista said...

AN: I agree, it is utterly appalling esp. as NL have slashed funding for ESOL. And the forms are shockingly long and tedious.

Also, with non-means tested benefits such as DLA claimants are expected to go into great detail about their disability but some of it is utterly personal stuff and it is really like having to bare your sodding soul for a pittance.

Poverty is growing, for example, in work age adults. NL are arguing that they are tackling child and pensioner poverty but to NL if you are work age than get a job... as we have seen with the Welfare Reform Act and Freud Review.

Anonymous said...

Nick Raynsford (The MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, and the Minister who was responsible for CT before he lost the job to Ruth Kelly) was involved in the debate about Home Information Packs - of which he is a supporter.

However, until reminded that he should have made his "outside interests" know to the House when he joined the debate, he neglected to inform Members that he is a director of a company that provides HIPs. (No doubt, simply a mere oversight on his part?)

From the on-line version of Hansard re. the debate in Parliament on Wed 16 may 2007, Columns 634 and 635 at
http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070516/debtext/70516-0007.htm

Michael Gove: I am always interested to hear what the right hon. Gentleman has to say, as he is a figure of considerable expertise. However, it is a source of regret to me that he did not declare his interest in making his intervention.

Mr. Raynsford: I will declare it later.
.
.
.
Michael Gove: I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As we know, the right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich is a figure not just of expertise but of dignity. He respects the rules of the House and I am sure that he will be grateful to me for reminding the House that he is the director of a firm that produces home information packs.

And, later - already having spoken several times - in Column 652 at
http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070516/debtext/70516-0009.htm

Mr. Nick Raynsford (Greenwich and Woolwich) (Lab): At the outset, I wish to draw attention to my declared interests, specifically as chairman of the Construction Industry Council and a director of Hometrack.

Construction Industry Council web site :- http://www.cic.org.uk/home/index.shtml
Hometrack web site :- http://www.hometrack.co.uk/

Is it unreasonable to assume that all the data that Hometrack collects will be added to the Valuation Office Agency records - in the same way that Rightmove sell their data to the VOA?

Even though the VOA deal with Rightmove is paid for from taxpayers' money, information about it is not readily available. See from Column 1538W and on at :-
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070501/text/70501w0004.htm
and
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=420072&in_page_id=1770

The amount involved - to date - is thought to be more than £4 million, or about the amount of CT collected on 3,077 band D properties.

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Charlie Marks said...

the problem with pension credits and tax credits is *means testing*. The govt. knows who's entitled to what (they certainly will do if the ID card scheme goes ahead!) and instead of helping people fill out forms, they could just dole out the dosh. Natch, this would be intolerable to the New Labourites: "Universal benefits are *so* 20th Century..." One of the "failed policies of the past"? Nuh-uh