Work and Pensions Committee Press Notice

Session 2003-04

'Select Committee to inquire into the introduction of Pension Credit'

'Select Committee to inquire into the introduction of Pension Credit'

The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee today announced an inquiry "to examine the introduction of the Pension Credit and the ability of the Pension Service to deliver it successfully."

Pension Credit came into force in October 2003, replacing the 'Minimum Income Guarantee'(Income Support) for those aged 60 or over. There are now over 2.4 million pensioner households in receipt of Pension Credit. ( 1) and there is a target increase this to 3.2 million by 2008.( 2) The Government estimates that just under 5 million households will be eligible by 2014.( 3) It is delivered by the Pension Service, through a network of Pension Centres, supported by locally based services. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently announced plans to reduce the number of Pension Centres, and to reduce its workforce by 30,000 by 2008.( 4)

The Work and Pensions Committee conducted an inquiry into Pension Credit prior to its introduction. This concluded that Pension Credit had potential to go some considerable way towards achieving its aims of tackling pensioner poverty and increasing incentives to save.( 5) However, to achieve its potential, it was crucial that the Pension Service was able to administer this far-reaching and complex benefit effectively. Levels of take-up also needed to increase substantially compared to the Minimum Income Guarantee. The Committee is now announcing a further inquiry to examine the implementation of Pension Credit one year on from its introduction. Issues the Committee might want to investigate include:

•  The contribution played by Pension Credit to the incomes of current and future pensioners;

•  The interaction of Pension Credit with other benefits and with local authority care charging policies;

•  Take-up of Pension Credit (and other benefits);

•  The consequences of the Department's plans to reduce its workforce and the number of Pensions Centres.

•  The delivery of a telephone-based service to pensioners;

•  The development of effective locally-based services;

•  The experience of claiming pension credit;

•  The experience of direct payments;

The Committee hopes to hold oral evidence sessions from the autumn and welcomes written submissions in accordance with the guidelines set out below by 1 October 2004.

1.  Pensions Service Annual Report and Accounts 2003/04

 2.  HM Treasury, 2004 Spending Review, Public Service Agreements 2005-2008. CM 6238. London: TSO

 3.  Information placed in House of Commons Library pursuant to Official Report 26 May, Col, 1718W

 4.  DWP Press Release, Departmental Efficiency. 29 June 2004

 5.   Work and Pensions Committee Second Report (2001-02), Pension Credit, HC 638-1

Evidence submitted should:

-  be on A4 paper, including letterhead with full postal address and contact details;

-  begin with a one page summary;

-  have numbered paragraphs;

-  avoid the use of colour or expensive-to-print material;

-  be in a form which is easy to photocopy; and

-  be accompanied, if possible, by a disk (with the document in WordPerfect or Word format).

Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.  Submissions can be sent via

* If submitting by e-mail, PLEASE also include full postal address and contact details. *