The Government is reviewing its campaign to boost the incomes of
poor pensioners amid Tory criticism that the drive has flopped.
Whitehall sources said the Department for Work and Pensions would look
at "other options" for targeting UK pensioners after a £5 million
push by BMP DDB resulted in only 115,000 people receiving the new
Minimum Income Guarantee.
David Willetts, the Tory Opposition spokesman on pensions, said: "The
Government needs to confront this problem by making the benefits system
easier to understand, not by ineffective advertising campaigns."
BMP's campaign, which included TV commercials featuring the actress
Thora Hird, produced 1.2 million inquiries but recent government figures
show that only 115,000 received the top-up payments.
Alistair Darling, the secretary of state for work and pensions, insisted
that the campaign was a "success" and said the response had been "huge".
He conceded that many of those who responded did not qualify because
their income or savings made them ineligible.
Darling was concerned that the new statistics failed to identify the
people missing out on state benefits. "I am commissioning further
research so that we can better identify people who are entitled to
benefits," he said.
Other options being considered by the Government include producing a new
leaflet explaining the scheme, a shorter claim form and an "automatic
trigger" when people reach retirement age to check whether they will
qualify for the Minimum Income Guarantee.