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Pensioners - Millions left unclaimed as benefit system found too complicated

8 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Older People, Newry Armagh MLA Micky Brady has said there needs to be an urgent review of the benefits system after its was found in a new survey that six out of ten pensioners on low incomes are being put off claiming benefits because the system is too complicated.

The survey was carried out by Age Concern.

Mr Brady said:

"It is worrying that so many pensioners are being put off claiming benefits that they are rightly entitled to because the system is far too complicated.

"In a study carried out by Age Concern they found that 58% of elderly people on lower income did not claim benefits because of the complexity of the system, with nearly half saying they found means-testing intrusive and 48% put off by complicated forms.

"It also found that nearly four years after the British Government introduced the pension credits a third of people who were entitled to it were still missing out, this means that older people are missing our on millions of pounds that they are entitled to.

"There needs to be an urgent review of the way people can access the benefits system, the forms for many of the benefits are far to complicated.

"I back Age Concerns call for benefits to be paid automatically to those who are entitled to them rather than being faced with a mountain of paper work and form filling annually.

"I would urge anyone who is unsure of what they are entitled to or needs help filling out benefits forms to contact any of the voluntary and community groups across the north who do an excellent job helping many people get what they are rightly entitled to." ENDS

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