As the cost of living crisis continues many pensioners face unprecedented financial challenges. With roughly a million eligible pensioners missing out on unclaimed Pension Credit DWP is reminding people that support is available. In this blog post we look how some local authorities are using data to increase take up of unclaimed Pension Credit and the big difference they are making to people’s lives.

DWP raises awareness of unclaimed Pension Credit with campaign

DWP’s awareness campaign aims to reach around 1 million households who are eligible for but not claiming £1.7bn of Pension Credit

In a campaign building up to Pension Credit Day of Action on Wednesday 15 June 2022 DWP estimated that £1.7 billion of unclaimed Pension Credit is available for around a third of eligible pensioners, or one million people. The department aims to shed light on this and tackle myths that may stop people applying. They highlight having savings or owning a home as factors that do not automatically bar someone from receiving Pension Credit. 

One focus of the Day of Action was the role of friends and family supporting those who may be eligible to apply. The BBC quotes Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, who called on friends and family to check if their pension-age relatives were claiming all of the financial support available to them in the face of rising costs.

Meanwhile, Martin Lewis speaking on Good Morning Britain, highlighted the ‘gateway’ element of Pension Credit, and how those who are eligible may also be eligible for other benefits such as the upcoming £650 energy payment as laid out by the government earlier this month. 

Campaigns by the DWP are a great way to raise awareness of support available, however this may not be reflected in the take-up rates. Low take-up rates of below 5% seen in previous letter campaigns highlight the importance of local support for people who can often need help with their application. 

Some leading local authorities have achieved great success with Pension Credit take-up campaigns informed by their administrative data. Councils who use Policy in Practice’s LIFT platform have secured take-up for residents worth an average of £2,700 per household.

Local authorities lead the way with successful take-up campaigns

LIFT uses local authorities’ own administrative data to identify households eligible for and missing out on benefits, including Pension Credit

Analysis of local authorities’ administrative data is key in identifying people who are in financial hardship and missing out on available support. Our LIFT platform pools this data and can flag people missing out on Pension Credit, and a range of other benefits. Local authorities can then engage these households through locally run and supported campaigns. 

The involvement of local authorities is key for a number of reasons. 

  • They are best placed to offer support directly or through trusted partners such as Age UK or other local charities. This ensures that residents know where to go for local support, or if they need any further help now or in the future
  • Local authorities can tie in any other support residents may be eligible for in terms of other benefits, or support in reducing their bills with a free TV licence or via warm home discounts
  • Importantly, local authorities have built up trust with residents during the pandemic due to contact around test and trace payments and various discretionary benefits administered. This would likely lead to a greater take-up success than a generic communications campaign
Local AuthorityNumber of eligible householdsSuccessful Take-up (%)Average economic benefit to households
Islington68939%£3,396
Folkestone & Hythe9844%£2,700

Case study: Islington Council boosted Pension Credit take-up by 39%

Pairing with councils across London and Kent, we have demonstrated the effectiveness of Pension Credit take-up campaigns at the local authority level.  

The total value of Pension Credit take-up we have secured for clients across nine local authorities in the South East is currently £1,905,720. 

In a Pension Credit take-up campaign with Islington Council, Policy in Practice identified 689 eligible households using our LIFT platform. The ensuing contact from the council resulted in 269 households (39%) successfully claiming Pension Credit, and confirmed economic benefits to residents of £910,007, or £3,396 per household.

The extra benefits to Islington residents were equally as significant:

  • 238 of the 269 households also received £218,803 worth of backdated Pension Credit. This is an average of £919 per household
  • 25 of these households will also receive £56,136 worth of other benefits from now on. This is an average of £2,245 per household
  • 11 of these households also got £5,427 worth of back-dated other benefits

Using data led targeted support meant that all funds were directed towards households that Islington knew were eligible. The households that were supported are now financially stable.

The benefits to the council are equally as strong. The average age of a resident entitled to Pension Credit in Islington is 77 and the average life expectancy is 83, based on 2010 findings. This means that the Pension Credit take-up campaign could end up bringing in total economic and fiscal benefits to Islington Council of £6,244,343.

In a similar campaign in Tower Hamlets, 415 households were identified and contacted, with 58 taking up Pension Credit. While the success rate was lower, this was achieved without follow-up calls being made. So even when the council had minimal resources to spare, they achieved a take-up rate of 14%, with benefits to residents totalling £223,000, or £3,845 per household. 

Case study: Folkestone and Hythe District Council boosts Pension Credit take-up worth £2,700 per household

Pension Credit take-up campaigns run by LIFT clients yield an average gain per eligible household of £2,700 a year

The Revenue and Benefits team at Folkestone and Hythe District Council used LIFT to support their mixed-age pensioner campaign, identifying 98 potential claimants. Just 10 days after contacting these residents by phone, 51 had begun claiming Pension Credit, an uptake of 44%. 

There are 51 households claiming Pension Credits which, for a couple, is worth £255 per week. This means £676,000 annually has been brought into our district which I think is an awesome result for what was, in realistic terms, a few afternoons by three benefit staff.

Jane Worrall, Revenue and Benefits Senior Specialist, Folkestone and Hythe Council

The average gain for each household is £2,700 per annum. This rises when passported support (e.g. free television licenses) or other benefits (reduced long term care costs) are factored in. 

Similar gains have been achieved at Gravesham council where Pension Credit campaigns have led to over £184,000 in additional annual income for pension-aged residents.

A national campaign would yield £230 million for pensioners

Extra potential supports such as a free TV license or bus pass is also identified via LIFT

There are currently 20 other local authorities already successfully running, or planning to run, Pension Credit take-up campaigns using their administrative data. Their results are entirely replicable. Local authority-led take-up campaigns typically reach 500 households on average, varying according to the size of the authority.

Based on our analysis across 33 local authorities, we believe we can identify 250,000 pensioners missing out nationally. If one in three is supported to take up Pension Credit, we could help 85,000 pensioners to take up the benefit within three months. 

The impact nationally would be an additional £230m in annual income to the worst off pensioner households. Factoring in life expectancy and other benefits such as television licenses, the lifetime impact of the campaign would be £1.5 billion.

Next steps

  1. Read our case study showing how LIFT clients have boosted take-up of Pension Credit. Read case study here
  2. Learn more about using data to boost benefits take-up. Join our free webinar, How to identify and support Just About Managing households using data, on Wednesday 6 July. See further details and register here
  3. Contact us for help to increase Pension Credit take-up. We can help local authorities to identify eligible pensioner households that are missing out on Pension Credit today. Our clients have secured an average gain per eligible household of £2,700 within six months. Call 0330 088 9242 or email hello@policyinpractice.co.uk to get started

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