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Government must do more to combat pensioner poverty

December 27, 2008 12:00 AM

Liberal Democrats in Hinckley and Bosworth are calling on the government to do more to combat pensioner poverty.

Michael Mullaney, Liberal Democrat parliamentary Spokesman for Bosworth said "It has been estimated that 4 in 10 pensioners who are entitled to the government's Pension Credit are not claiming it. This means there must be hundreds of pensioners here in Hinckley and Bosworth who are not claiming the support they need.

"We need to move away from means-tested benefits like Pension Credit, which many of the poorest pensioners don't claim.

"The Liberal Democrats want to restore the link between earnings and pensions and secondly to introduce a citizen's pension.

" In 1950, the pension was worth 18.4 per cent. of the average wage. Today, the pension is worth only 15.9 per cent., which means that today's pensioners who rely solely on the state pension, and about 40 per cent of those entitled to pension credit do not claim it, are worse off.

"Pension Credit, a means-tested way of paying pensioners, has failed to tackle pensioner poverty. We need to get all pensioners up to a level where they can live with dignity without having to undergo what they consider to be the indignity of putting their income and all their savings through tests.

"All pensioners, regardless of who they are, what they have earned in the past or what contributions they have made should be entitled to a decent citizen's pension. This would benefit, for example, the many women who take time out to have a family, with a Citizens Pension they would not lose out as many do at present.

"The pension credit does not work. It is not being claimed. The test of the success of any benefit must be whether it is understood and claimed. Whether the Government like it or not, the reality is that Pension Credit is not understood or claimed. It should be replaced by a universal Citizen's Pension".