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Pensioners failing to take up benefits

As many as 1.6 million pensioners could be suffering poverty because they are not taking up state benefits that they are entitled to. The Commons public accounts committee (CPAC) revealed that only 61 to 69 per cent of pensioners claimed their rightful government money, meaning that up to £2.1 billion could have remained unclaimed between 2004 and 2005. Successful take-ups were lowest in rural areas, particularly among older senior citizens and ethnic minorities. Anna Pearson, senior policy officer at charity Help the Aged, said it was a disgrace. "The long term solution to pensioner poverty is to ensure benefits are paid to older people automatically rather than them having to make a claim. We already know Government has the capacity to do this - it is just a matter of political will," said Ms Pearson."There needs to be a robust target for reducing pensioner poverty and this must be addressed in the Comprehensive Spending Review. The public accounts committee is right - the Department of Work and Pensions, housing providers, local authorities and Primary Care Trusts all have an integral role to play in this process," she concluded.

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