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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2003): Social Security - UK

BROWN TO SEEK NEW TAKERS FOR TAX CREDITS

R Bennett

The Times, January 15th 2003, p.10

Gordon Brown is to spend £9 million on a new advertising campaign to boost low take-up of his tax credit programme at this April's relaunch. He has also offered to halve the size of the application form in a tacit admission that his tax credit system is too complex.

(See also Financial Times, January 15th 2003, p.5; the Guardian, January 15th 2003, p.11)

TACKLING PENSIONER POVERTY: ENCOURAGING TAKE-UP OF ENTITLEMENTS

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2002 (House of Commons papers, session 2002/03; HC 37)

Found that although 2 million pensioners live in low-income households, between a quarter and a third of those entitled do not claim the Minimum Income Guarantee, and significant numbers do not claim other benefits. The creation of the Pensions Service in 2002 offers a golden opportunity to improve service to pensioners through a more proactive approach than under the Benefits Agency. Government has sought to improve take-up of the Minimum Income Guarantee through a shorter form and a dedicated telephone claim line, but more needs to be done for other benefits. There is considerable scope for increasing take-up through systematic application of best practice from campaigns mounted by the voluntary sector and local authorities. The Pensions Service cannot tackle pensioner poverty on its own and needs to develop strategies to work in partnership with other agencies.

TORIES ATTACK RECORD LOW USE OF BABY TAX CREDIT

N Timmins

Financial Times, January 2nd 2003, p.2

Only 85,000 families have claimed the government's new baby tax credit in its first eight months of operation, a take-up rate of 17% according to David Willetts, the Conservative's Work and Pensions spokesman. The credit provides a double payment of the normal child tax credit in the year of a child's birth for those who qualify.

(See also The Independent, January 2nd 2003, p.2)

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