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Eastbourne & Willingdon MP Nigel Waterson has again raised the issue of pensioner poverty in the Commons.  He led for the Official Opposition in a Debate on the subject.

Nigel said in the Debate: “We face the grim truth that 2.5 million pensioners live in poverty and 64% of pensioner households are dependent on state benefits for at least one half of their income.”

“Sadly, Help the Aged has estimated that between 20,000 and 50,000 elderly people die each winter because of their freezing homes.”  And he committed his Party to retaining the winter fuel allowance and to restoring the link between the state pension and earnings.

He drew particular attention to the low take-up of council tax benefit and the campaign by the Royal British Legion to rename this ‘council tax rebate’.  This campaign had been supported personally by David Cameron.

“Only 55% or so of all pensioners who qualify for the benefit actually get round to making a claim.  According to polling, two thirds of people believe that the benefit is not claimed because people are ashamed to claim it.  The simple change of name from ‘benefit’ to ‘rebate’ would take away a great deal of the shame.”

“A simple change it may be, but it could put a great deal of extra money into the pockets of needy pensioners across our country.”

24 February 2010