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300,000 Missing out on Pension Credits

18 May, 2007

South Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Mitchel McLaughlin has said there needs be a focussed public awareness campaign to inform pensioners on their entitlements and on how to claim. His call comes following the Public Accounts Committee finding that the government's 2006 target of 3 million pensioners receiving Pension Credit had been missed by a margin of 300,000 people.

Mitchel McLaughlin said

"I find it shocking that nearly a third of pensioners who are eligible for Pension Credit - up to 1.6 million people are not claiming it. There needs to be a root and branch change in the way departments go about trying to raise the uptake of the various benefits people are entitled to.

"Its estimated £4 billion to £7 billion of benefits goes unclaimed every year - working out at £1,500 per person. For many pensioners it's a daily struggle just to get by and it's often found people are unaware of the benefits that they are entitled to and are therefore being denied financial benefits to which they have contributed all of their lives.

"It is vitally important that people are fully informed of their entitlements through public awareness campaigns delivered with the same vigour as those being followed to eliminate benefit fraud. There is clearly something wrong when 300,000 elderly citizens are missing out on Pension entitlements." ENDS

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