Benefits system 'failing poorer pensioners'

Over 50s charity Age Concern and Help the Aged has criticised the government's means-tested benefits system for preventing disadvantaged older people from accessing the help they need.

New figures released by the Department of Work and Pensions have revealed that as much as 5.4 billion of money allocated for over 50s benefits went unclaimed by its intended recipients in 2007-08.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director for Age Concern and Help the Aged, called on the government to provide more automatic benefit payments for older people, stating that the average pensioner is missing out on 31 a week in pension credit.

She said: "If the unclaimed 5.4 billion were put directly into the pockets of the people who need it, we would pull about half a million pensioners out of poverty at a stroke."

The charity was more positive earlier this week about new pension reform initiatives from the government to assist those with broken work histories, emphasising the need to establish better links between earnings and basic state pension entitlement.

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