The government has done little to improve take-up of benefits among pensioners in the past six years and should refocus its efforts to reduce poverty, according to a report published today by Housing 21.
The housing and care organisation, which last reported on the issue in 2003, said up to one-third of pensioners were not taking their full benefit entitlement, leaving an estimated £5bn unclaimed each year.
The report said there was limited recognition of the role of benefits in helping older people remain independent, which would take the pressure off social care.
A World of Difference drew on the work of Housing 21’s welfare advice service, which has boosted benefit take-up among residents of its specialist housing schemes by more than £5.6m a year.
The service employs two welfare benefits managers, who have completed 219 benefits awareness and uptake campaigns since they started work in 2001 in 217 housing schemes, resulting in 2,900 successful claims.
The report called for local and health authorities and housing and care service providers to develop advice services and to encourage staff to signpost service users to sources of support.
But it said that government needed to develop a more robust approach to promoting benefit take-up among pensioners and provide more support for welfare benefit advice services.