Select Committee on Work and Pensions Second Report


Impact on pensioner poverty
(a)We welcome the extra spending that the Pension Credit will represent (paragraph 20).
Effect on rewards for saving
(b)We welcome the recognition and extra reward that the Pension Credit will provide for most of those who have saved for their retirement (paragraph 23).
(c)We recommend that the Government should inquire into the immediate and long-term costs, benefits and affordability of extending the Pension Credit in this way and make public the results (paragraph 32).
Effect on incentives to save
(d)We have concluded that, whilst the Pension Credit will enable today's pensioners to see a reward for saving, there is no clear evidence that it will actually increase younger individuals' savings (paragraph 37).
Treatment of earnings by the Credit
(e)We urge the Government to reconsider its policy on the Credit's treatment of earnings and, subject to cost and affordability shown consequent to such reconsideration, strongly recommend that the first £40 of all weekly earnings income be disregarded in the calculation of the Pension Credit to encourage more pensioners to remain involved with the labour market (paragraph 42).
The Credit's interaction with other benefits
(f)We welcome the Government's proposed changes to the rules governing entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, which should ensure that no pensioner loses benefit as a result of the Pension Credit. These changes do not, however, alter the case for a more fundamental re-examination of Housing Benefit (paragraph 44).
(g)We believe that the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health need to make clear how the proposals for the Pension Credit will interact with care charges: pensioners in residential care do not yet know if the real increase in pensioner income from the Credit will be lost through increased home care charges (paragraph 47).
Assessment of the Credit
(h)We welcome the five-year assessment periods for the Pension Credit, which we believe will significantly improve the delivery and accessibility of the new benefit. The Department will have to be careful, however, that pensioners who between assessment dates become eligible for help, or more help, under the Credit do not lose out on valuable assistance (paragraph 49).
(i)DWP employees within the Pension Service who are dealing with the public regularly, either face-to-face or via the telephone, must receive the appropriate level of training and support if they are to inspire the confidence and trust of clients and carry out the job efficiently (paragraph 51).
(j)We recommend that the Department should investigate the cost and practicability of providing a free-phone number for claimants as it moves increasingly to the call centre model (paragraph 52).
(k)While call centres may bring many advantages to the Credit's administration, we remain convinced of the need for a significant number of local staff able to deal with pensioners on a face-to-face basis (paragraph 53).
(l)Adequate provision must be made at all call centres to cope with pensioners from ethnic minorities, for whom English is not their first language (paragraph 53).
(m)The Department for Work and Pensions must ensure that the Pension Service has the necessary resources and expertise to deal with the challenges that the Pension Credit poses (paragraph 55).
(n)We firmly believe that initial take up could be limited by the fact that many pensioners will find it hard to calculate their entitlement, and will, therefore, be deterred from applying. This places a particular responsibility upon the Government to promote take up (paragraph 58).
Take up of the Credit
(o)We were concerned about the Department for Work and Pensions' inability to produce reasonable estimates for such an important figure as the take-up of a key Government benefit. We urge the Government to set out clear, and achievable, targets for levels of take-up of the Pension Credit (paragraph 61).
Future uprating of the Credit
(p)The Government has gone a long way toward specifying its intentions for indexing the MIG and the Basic State Pension. We urge them to do the same for the Pension Credit to aid Parliament in its consideration of the Bill and to provide more certainty to those involved in the long-term planning necessary for pension provision (paragraph 73).
The role of the Pension Credit in the Government's overall pensions strategy
(q)We share the concerns, expressed by many, about whether the State Second Pension has a viable future once the Pension Credit is introduced. We look forward to the Government clarifying the role of the State Second Pension in its overall pensions strategy (paragraph 86).
(r)We urge the Government to publish estimates of the cost of increasing the accrual rate and/or lower earnings threshold for the State Second Pension along the lines described by the Government Actuary (paragraph 87).

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