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Benefits worth millions of pounds unclaimed every year

MSPs launch investigation to find out why people are not taking up entitlements.

Millions of pounds are left unclaimed each year.
Millions of pounds are left unclaimed each year. George Clerk / Getty

MSPs have launched an investigation to try to uncover why benefits worth millions of pounds go unclaimed each year.

Holyrood's Social Security Committee is carrying out the inquiry in a bid to determine what can be done to improve uptake.

Fewer than a third (31%) of families without children who were eligible for Working Tax Credit claimed this in 2016-17, figures from HM Revenue and Customs and the UK Department for Work and Pensions estimated, and only 60% of those eligible for Pension Credit signed up for it.

Difficulties in estimating the number of people not taking up benefits means that the full extent of the problem is unknown.

MSPs will now consider if information campaigns could boost take-up, or even if technology could be used to automate the process and make it easier.

Committee convener Bob Doris said: "There can be any number of reasons for low benefit uptake rates, but it is absolutely essential that we learn the scale of this challenge and take every possible action to improve uptake.

"There is no doubt the stigma of claiming benefits hinders uptake, while too often people are simply not aware of the benefits they are entitled to.

"Administration processes are also often too complex, and our inquiry is determined to identify any barriers to benefit uptake and how we can remove these.

"The committee will consider the Scottish Government strategy on benefit uptake, which will be published in October, but what is clear is that everything possible must be done to ensure those in need receive the full benefits they are entitled to."

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