12 March 2007

In my local post office I saw a poster which said that every year in Cornwall £9 million of benefits are unclaimed. Most are to do with disability and incapacity, caring, and additions to pensions.

Why are these unclaimed?

If it’s down to pride, I think there is little we can do about it. It is very difficult to change people’s attitudes like this and I wonder whether it is even desirable to try.

If it’s because of ignorance or bewilderment from the complexity of the system, I think there is much we can and should do with effect.

We can contact the people who are entitled but not claiming and show them what they are missing out on, we can help them through the system – the poster does give the name of a councillor who offers to help – and nationally we can take a hard look at the complexity of the system and the disincentive relationship with pay. We’ve got it wrong if £9 million is unclaimed and we should take getting it right seriously, especially in a county where so many are poor rather than rich.