The #PensionCredit day of action occurs on 15 Jun and the Minister for Pensions @GuyOpperman is pleased that many organisations, including @CitizensAdvice and @age_uk who he met today, will continue to encourage eligible people to claim the benefit#DWPOrals pic.twitter.com/zDGLzWbwzr
— DWP Press Office (@dwppressoffice) June 6, 2022
The DWP held a pension credit update for the public, private and third sector of charities and community organisations – bright and early on Monday morning.
I have now presented to Guy Opperman, my report on what the private sector can do to improve awareness and help ihn the automation of the application and approval process.
But I want to use this blog to look at individual ideas and show how partnerships can work in practice , just as Guy Opperman is explaining to the House of Commons yesterday (watch the video on the tweet)
The role Local Authorities can play
No one knows better where pensioner poverty exists than local authorities, that is because they have data on who is claiming housing benefit and detailed information on household income. In this presentation given by Deven Ghalani to the DWP last month, Deven explains how close analysis of the data available to these authorities can identify the very households that for whatever reason, are missing out on thousands of pounds of benefit. We estimate that the lifetime value of a pension credit (including the door it opens to more) is around £220,000.
Policy in Practice aren’t the only organisation active in this space, Gareth Morgan’s Ferret Information Systems and Manu Peleteiro’s Inbest AI are also developing solutions that use technology to improve participation.
These fintechs are already making a difference but they could do so much more if they were promoted as they should be.
And the Local Authorities have the opportunity now to release central Government money so that the everyday problems of heating and eating that beset there poorest pensioners can be relieved.
The pensions industrty spends a lot of its time marketing to the Local Government Pension Scheme but very little of its time considering the role that Local Government has in ensuring that a minimum levvel of pension and support for housing, fuel payments and even TV licences is paid to all the pensioners in its care.
The organisations at yesterday’s meeting included the Pension and Lifetime Savings Association as well as Virgin Money, Policy in Practice and the Pension PlayPen. The issue of pensioner poverty is now acute and – as the Minister said in parliament and in DWP’s HQ, we need pension action.
The job is simple, to make sure that those who have the know-how to use technology to solve problems talk with those who have the data to identify and assist those in need of the £1.8bn which is estimated to be left on the table by the 850,000 households missing out on pension credit.
Creating a fully functioning system where no-one gets left behind
When I consider the effort being poured into presenting the pension industry as alive to environmental, social and governance issues, I find that this effort is focussed purely on the pension funds. The unfunded pensions paid to people in this country may be paid out of the Government’s Exhequor, but the money is no less real – when it arrives in the hands of those it is intented for.
We have a consumer duty in pensions, we have a fiduciary duty too. Can we really claim we have a comittment to ESG and allow social injustice to persist?
IF we care about the societal element in ESG, we cannot ignore the plight of those in pension poverty, indeed they should be in the front of our mind.
Which is why the 15th June needs to be more than a day of awareness, it needs to be a day of action, where the organisations in the room yesterday reach out to those not in the room. It was good to see policy people from the BBC, ITV, BT and British Gas but how will they translate good intentions into real action? Can we see a QR code to a pension credit application sitting on our phone and gas bills? Will the BBC make sure that everyone who is paying their TV licence is reminded that those who are over 75 and struggling , may find their licences paid for them. Will ITV, give this subject airtime – their advertising being dependent on licences?
These things will only happen if we make them happen, we need to be in the faces of the decision makers and make sure that good intentions turn to action. Which is why you’ll be hearing a lot more from me on this. No-one should be getting left behind.