Govt reviews benefit ads for pensioners amid Tory criticism

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.


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