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Pensioners urged to claim free cash entitlements

Unclaimed Pension Credit is estimated to be worth £246.5m a year in London alone, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Khan has announced he is expanding a campaign to raise awareness of unclaimed cash – which some of London’s poorest older people could be missing out on.

The mayor is seeking to build on the initiative he launched in February, aimed at making Londoners aware of whether they’re entitled to receive Pension Credit.

The campaign has so far helped 2,165 older Londoners claim an average of £3,879 in direct additional annual income – a total of around £8.4m. A planned autumn expansion will see the area covered by the campaign of targeted letters grow from 17 boroughs to 23, with the goal of reaching 10,000 more Londoners.

City Hall calculates that the expansion could result in up to £9m of further Pension Credit being claimed.

Khan said the initiative so far had been “hugely successful”, adding that it is especially important given the fact that older Londoners on low incomes are already “disproportionately feeling the cost of living squeeze”.

Unclaimed Pension Credit is estimated to be worth £246.5m a year in London alone. The government provides Pension Credit to people of state pension age on low incomes.

In addition to providing recipients with extra money, being on Pension Credit also unlocks a range of further support, including help with energy and council tax bills, free NHS dental treatment, housing benefit for renters and free TV licences for those aged 75 or above.

The mayor’s campaign was run in partnership with welfare and data analytics company Policy in Practice.

Claire Holland, executive member for communities at the cross-party group London Councils, called the campaign “a great example of what can be achieved through collaboration and intelligent use of data”.

Cllr Holland, who is also the leader of Labour-run Lambeth Council, added: “Great progress has been made, but there are still struggling Londoners missing out on this crucial support.

“The expansion of the campaign will help ensure more pensioners receive the Pension Credit they are entitled to.”

Earlier this year, the London Assembly’s economy committee had warned Khan that the low uptake of Pension Credit remained a serious problem in the capital, and urged him to keep the committee updated on any plans to scale up the awareness campaign.