TOO few pensioners in the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area are taking advantage of cash they are entitled to.

Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing has highlighted research by the organisation, Independent Age, on both the impact on pensioners and the cost to the taxpayer of low Pension Credit uptake.

Ms Ewing said this week: “In an astonishing piece of research commissioned for the charity ‘Independent Age’, the Centre for Research in Social Policy has estimated that there is a £4billion cost to the taxpayer in increased NHS and social care spending resulting from 40% of eligible pensioners not receiving pension credit.

“So not only are the pensioners themselves losing out, the rest of us are too.

“In my Cowdenbeath constituency alone, this includes an estimated £4,400,000 in costs to the NHS and care systems.

“At a time when pensioners, the NHS and the social care system are all being severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that action is taken to ensure Pension credit is received by those who need it".

Ms Ewing added: “Pension Credit has one of the lowest take-up rates of any income-related benefit, at around 60%, with over 1 million people missing out – including 1,278 pensioner households missing out on a total of £2,500,000 in the Cowdenbeath area.

“Pension Credit is important for low-income pensioners, not simply because of what it means in terms of the top-up of income it provides but because it can act as a gateway to qualifying for many other benefits.

“In early 2020, the UK Government admitted to the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee that if all pensioners received the benefits they were entitled to, including Pension Credit, pensioner poverty would be all but eliminated.

“This research echoes that, estimating that if everyone who is eligible for Pension Credit received it, pensioner poverty would be reduced by almost 5% down to 11.8%".

The Cowdenbeath MSP concluded: “So it is without hesitation that I give my backing to ‘Independent Age’s Credit Where It’s Due' campaign, calling on the UK Government to put in place an ambitious action plan, detailing how they will work to increase the uptake of Pension Credit over the next five years.

“In the meantime, I would urge any local pensioner struggling to get by to check whether they might be entitled to Pension Credit. It might make a big difference.”