Many people who attempted to apply for the pension credit, launched
this week, were given bad advice by the government helpline,
according to new research.
A survey of 24 senior welfare rights officers in 22 local
authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, carried out by
independent welfare rights expert Neil Bateman, finds that
two-thirds of officers were concerned about the quality of advice
being given by pension credit helpline advisers.
The pension credit, which is means-tested, provides people aged 60
or older with a minimum income guarantee.
For the first time, it also gives people aged 65 and over an
additional payment that rewards them according to their savings,
providing these are moderate.
The government announced that two million people were receiving
pension credit on its launch date, 1.3 million of whom were
previously on minimum income guarantee and were automatically
transferred to the new system.
About 4.5 million people in the UK are eligible for the credit –
about half of the older population.
But Bateman said this was inadequate: “Given that they have been
busily trying to improve take-up for the past six months, the
figure is a concern.”