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Britons fail to claim billions in benefits

Britons fail to claim billions in benefits

Category: Economy

Updated: 25/06/2009
First Published: 25/06/2009

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.
Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions show that Britons failed to claim up £10.5 billion worth of benefits in 2007-08.

The data is based on the percentage of available Income Support, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance (Income Based) that was claimed.

In total, between £6.3 billion and £10.5 billion was left unclaimed during the period. Over £35 billion was claimed, representing a take up of available benefits of between about 77 per cent and 85 per cent.

In the previous yearly period, between £6.18 billion and £9.9 billion was left unclaimed.

The take-up of Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax all dropped by approximately one percentage point, while Jobseekers Allowance remained unchanged.

Pension Credit was the only benefit area which actually saw an increase in take-up, albeit by one percentage points. Take-up was between 61 per cent and 70 per cent of total entitlement.

Despite the slight rise, the Help the Aged charity has hit out at the current system.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director for Age Concern and Help the Aged, commented: "These figures show just how badly the means-tested benefits system, which was supposed to life older people out of poverty, is bogged down.

"The increase of one percentage point in the number of Pension Credit claimants still means one in three pensioners are missing out on this benefit.

"If the unclaimed £5.4 billion were put directly into the pockets of the people who need it, we would put about half a million pensioners out of poverty at a stroke."

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