Thank you for contacting me about Government support for pensioners.
I believe that everyone should have security and dignity in their retirement, and I am confident that the Government has consistently acted to protect UK pensioners. As you raise a number of issues in your correspondence, I address them separately below.
Uprating of benefits and the State Pension for 2023/24
I strongly welcome that both the State Pension and benefits were increased by 10.1 per cent for 2023/24, in line with inflation. This means the biggest increase in the State Pension ever and an average uplift of around £600 for households receiving Universal Credit.
Uptake of Pension Credit
I support the Government's commitment to ensuring that everybody who is eligible claims the support to which they are entitled. I understand that the Government is always looking at ways to maximise the uptake of Pension Credit.
A £1.2 million nationwide communications campaign was launched by DWP in 2022 to promote pension credit, and in 2023 the DWP wrote to over 11 million pensioners as part of the annual uprating of State Pensions, with the accompanying leaflet updated to promote pension credit. Following these steps, I was pleased to learn that applications for pension credit applications up to May 2023 were 75 per cent higher than in the previous year.
The DWP has also developed the Pension Credit Toolkit, an online tool aimed at agencies and welfare rights organisations to help them encourage Pension Credit uptake.
The Toolkit contains resources for anyone working with pensioners and includes guides on Pension Credit. It also contains publicity material and guidance designed to help older people understand how they could get Pension Credit and to help organisations support someone applying for Pension Credit, as well as ideas for encouraging take-up. The Toolkit also provides links to information about disability and carer benefits.
The Cost of Living
All households, including pensioner households, will benefit from the Government’s Energy Price Guarantee (EPG). This guarantee limits the amount you can be charged per unit of gas or electricity. The current price guarantee, set at £3,000, will support households between now and April 2024. Although energy prices are currently below the level at which EPG payments would be made, it will remain in force until the end of March 2024 to protect households from price spikes, putting in place a safety net for households up and down the country.
Furthermore, at the Autumn Statement 2022, the Government announced a substantial support package for the most vulnerable for 2023/24, including £300 Cost-of-Living Payments for pensioners, £150 for people on disability benefits, and £900 for people on means-tested benefits. The Government is also providing £1 billion of extra funding by extending the Household Support Fund to March 2024, bringing the total of the Fund to £2.5 billion.
I hope that this response reassures you that pensioners in the UK are being adequately supported and that the most vulnerable will continue to be protected during the difficult months ahead.