DSS to launch pounds 14m pensions blitz

The Department of Social Security is to launch two campaigns with a combined budget of up to pounds 14 million to inform widows and pensioners about their rights.

The Department of Social Security is to launch two campaigns with a

combined budget of up to pounds 14 million to inform widows and

pensioners about their rights.



Ministers have earmarked between pounds 8 million and pounds 10 million

for a television, press and direct mail blitz to help correct a bungled

attempt to cut widows’ benefits.



It will be the biggest DSS campaign and the Government’s largest since

Labour came to power in 1997. A shortlist will be drawn up within the

next few weeks and an agency should be in place within two months.



The DSS took ten years to update its leaflets after a 1986 law halved

entitlement to the state earnings-related pension (Serps) for people who

will become widows or widowers after April this year.



The cuts have now been delayed until October 2002 but the campaign will

explain that people who made different choices as a result of the

Government’s mistake will still pass on up to 100 per cent of their

Serps pension to their spouse if they die after the cut-off date. ’The

onus is on us to tell people about this,’ a source said.



The second blitz, announced on Wednesday by Alistair Darling, the social

security secretary, will target an estimated 600,000 pensioners not

claiming the minimum income guarantee, which raises the incomes of the

poorest old people to pounds 78 a week from next month.



BMP landed the TV, press and direct mail push behind this last year but

the ad budget has now been raised from pounds 2.5 million to pounds 4

million.



Darling said: ’It will be the largest take-up campaign run by a

government to make sure that we get these people the entitlement that

they are due.’



The ads, which will feature Dame Thora Hird, are due to break this

summer.



They will publicise a hotline which will allow pensioners to claim over

the telephone.



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