The Department for Work and Pensions research report, published without comment in June, reveals shocking figures for the numbers of people missing out on pensions and other social security they are entitled to.
This is believed to be the first time the Government has released details of the amount of benefits which go unclaimed since 2010, and reveal a sorry picture of millions of people losing out on the benefits they are entitled to.
- More than a third of eligible pensioners (between 1.2 -1.4 million people) missed out on receiving Pension Credit during 2013/014 and the total unclaimed came to between £2.5 and £3.3 billion.
- Jobseeker’s Allowance was the worst performing benefit. The report estimated that more than 650,000 families (at least 4 in 10 of all families eligible) failed to receive the benefit. Of these, between 120-180,000 included children.
- Over a million households eligible for Housing Benefit, including an estimated 260,000 pensioners, failed to receive it. As a result, a total of between £3.1 and £4.1 billion in Housing Benefit went unclaimed.
- Across the four sets of benefits examined, a shocking total of between £10 – £13.2 billion in benefits went unclaimed during 2013/14.
The Department for Work and Pensions report Income-Related Benefits: Estimates of Take-up – Financial Year 2013/14 (experimental) was published in June 2015. It is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/437501/ir-benefits-take-up-main-report-2013-14.pdf
These new figures reinforce the findings of Church Action on Poverty’s Restoring Faith in the Safety Net report published in June, which documented an increasing number of holes in the welfare safety net – undue delays, errors, or excessive sanctions, many of which are leaving large numbers of people without income for days, weeks or even months at a time.
Writing in the foreword to the report, Rt Rev Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro said:
“Most people continue to believe that the welfare state provides a safety net when you fall on hard times. Yet for hundreds of thousands of people, the experience is quite different. Whilst recognising that benefits are never on their own going to solve poverty (and almost certainly aren’t going to be increased in the current political or economic climate), it is surely not unreasonable to expect the benefits system to prevent people from quite literally going hungry.”
Niall Cooper, Director of Church Action on Poverty commented:
“It is essential that the Government ensures that people are ably to rely on receiving the money due to them and are not put at risk of destitution as a result of being left without any source of income for extended periods of time – especially when they are not receiving money which they are actually entitled to.”
|Benefit||Estimated take-up % of eligible claimaints (‘caseload’)||Estimated number of families eligible but who didn’t receive the benefit||Estimate of expenditure take up %||Estimate of unclaimed benefit (£ million)|
|Pension Credit||61-64||1,240,000- 1,430,000||67-83||£2,480 – £3,260|
|Income Support, and Employment and Support Allowance||77-81||510,000-
|Jobseeker’s Allowance (Income-Based)||55-61||650,000-
|Housing Benefit||79-82||1,110,000- 1,300,000||85-88||£3,160 – £4,100|
|Total||£10,060 – £13,230|
Source: Department for Work and Pensions Income-Related Benefits: Estimates of Take-up – Financial Year 2013/14 (experimental). June 2015, page iii and tables 2.3.1; 2.3.2; 3.3.1; 3.3.2; 4.3.1; 4.3.2; 5.3.1; 5.3.2.
Note: These figures are best estimates based on the evidence available (modelling of survey and administrative data and so subject to variations and errors commonly known to affect this type of data). The reality is the true figure for the number of people who are missing out on benefits that they are entitled to isn’t actually known.
However, what the figures do give is a good indication of the likely proportion of households who were missing out on money they were entitled to at the time the snapshot was taken. For example, at the point of estimation, DWP figures showed that between 39 and 45% of households* who were eligible for JSA (IB) were not receiving it. Some of this shortfall in take-up may represent delay in claiming or processing a benefit which may be later received (and backdated), however this proportion is not known.