State Pension and Pension Credit

Please note that anyone with a query regarding a claim for State Pension or Pension Credit should go directly to the Gov.uk website

Summary

State Pension

In May 2018, the State Pensioner caseload was 245,750 in the Lancashire-12 area and 296,150 in the Lancashire-14 area. Within the Lancashire-12 area, Wyre (29,820) and Lancaster (28,510) had the largest number of persons claiming State Pension, whilst Rossendale (12,910) had the lowest.

People are generally living longer, so the trend was generally one of an increasing number of pensioners until 2014, or later. However, owing to the ongoing changes to the State Pension age, the number of persons claiming State Pension is currently declining. As the figures are published quarterly, it is possible to observe a cyclical effect for recent years with a smaller caseload in February of each year than in November of the year before, see Figure 1. This has been true of all the geographies shown in Table 1 since 2015, and for most geographies beginning in 2013. This is believed to be caused by excess winter deaths, but as of November 2017 caseloads have fallen in every quarter.

Many pensioners enjoy a reasonable standard of living, and a number of coastal and rural areas of Lancashire are particularly attractive to the older generation. A range of new and established housing developments specifically target this age-group, adding to the concentration of pensioners in certain parts of the Lancashire-14 area.

Pension Credit

A large proportion of the retired population does however have limited financial means and in May 2018, the number of beneficiaries of Pension Credit amounted to 41,080 in the Lancashire-12 area and 54,980 in the Lancashire-14 area. Within the Lancashire-14 area, Blackpool (7,820), Blackburn with Darwen (6,080), Lancaster and Preston (both 4,730) and Wyre (4,620) had the greatest number of beneficiaries of Pension Credit while Ribble Valley (1,130) had the lowest.

In the Lancashire-12 area, the total number of Pension Credit beneficiaries as a percentage of the State Pension total caseload was 16.7%. Both the Lancashire-12 and Lancashire-14 (18.6%) areas, had higher percentages than the GB average (including those abroad) of 15.7%, but the Lancashire-12 figure was lower than the 17.3% that applied to Great Britain only. Within the Lancashire-14 area, seven local authority areas had higher percentages of Pension Credit beneficiaries (as a percentage of the State Pension caseloads) than the GB average, with Blackburn with Darwen (28.4%), Blackpool (26.9%), Preston (22.6%), Pendle (22.4%) and Burnley (22.3%) having the highest proportions in the area. Ribble Valley (8.0%), South Ribble (12.1%) and Fylde (12.5%) had the lowest percentages in the Lancashire-14 area.

High numbers of Pension Credit claims are associated with inner-urban areas where the older population does not form a large proportion of local residents. The pensioners that reside in these areas however are often those in most need of this benefit. The number of Pension Credit recipients has been in decline since 2009, largely owing to the increase in the female State Pension age, which is leading to a fall in eligible claimants.

State Pension (£1.91bn) and Pension Credit (£100.9m) accounted for 60.6% of the total benefits expenditure in the Lancashire-12 area (£3.30bn) during the 2017/18 financial year.

Introduction

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) publishes quarterly data on the number of claimants of the various types of state benefits. Included in this material is information on the number of State Pension and Pension Credit claimants. The figures used in this article have been obtained from the DWP's Stat-Xplore site. May 2018 is the first quarter for which the data is published using geographies based on the 2011 Census of Population. As this article only considers statistics for local authority level and higher, we feel that this will not create any issues.

From December 2018, the State Pension age for both men and women will start to increase to reach 66 by April 2020, then 67 by April 2028, following an eight year period (2010-2018) in which the female State Pension age rose to match the State Pension age for men. The earlier take-up by women of State Pension, combined with their greater life expectancy, ensures that there are always more women claimants that men.

People who reached State Pension age before 6th April 2016 can receive the basic State Pension and Additional State Pension.

People who reached State Pension age on or after 6th April 2016 can receive the new State Pension

The amount paid for new State Pension is around 30.5% higher than the basic State Pension. Both types of pension increase each year by a rate determined by whichever is the highest:

  • earnings - the average percentage growth in wages (in Great Britain)
  • prices - the percentage growth in prices in the UK as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI)
  • 2.5%

The maximum amount currently awarded for basic State Pension is £125.95. All of the average weekly benefits shown in Table 1 are higher than this, so the figures shown include varying amounts of Additional State Pension. There is a detailed explanation of new State Pension, aimed mostly at those who do receive, or soon will be receiving, the benefit.
We have copied a more technical guidance note from one of the supporting data tables included in a DWP benefits summary. This also deals with the history of State Pension. We present this as an appendix.

The split between the recipients of the basic + Additional State Pension and new State Pension can be seen in the Microsoft Excel download: "State Pension caseloads, May 2002 to May 2018 time series, quarterly data for Lancashire-14 areas, plus GB and North West data" referenced at the foot of the page.

Please see the government's pensions and an ageing society web page for more information about pensions.

State Pension caseload in Lancashire

Table 1 has been presented as a summary of the main district-level figures. The table reveals that in May 2018, the State Pension caseload in Great Britain amounted to around 12 and three quarter million. In the Lancashire-12 area, which excludes the two unitary authorities of Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool, the total caseload was 245,750. The two unitary authorities had 21,390 and 29,020 pensioners respectively, giving a total figure of 296,150 for the Lancashire-14 area. At the local authority level, Wyre recorded the highest caseload in the Lancashire-14 area of 29,820, even though it only has the seventh highest total population in the Lancashire-14 area. With a caseload of 12,910, Rossendale had the lowest.

The average amount of State Pension awarded in Great Britain and to pensioners living abroad, £143.59, was relatively low because the overseas payments are normally of a lower value. In the Lancashire-14 area, Rossendale recorded the highest weekly average £157.68, noticeably in excess of the lowest figure of £145.66 in Blackpool.

Figure 1 shows the State Pension caseload for the Lancashire-12 area in every quarter from May 2002. It shows a steady rise for 10 years or a little more before changes to the State Pension age began to take effect. From 2013 a cyclical pattern appears in which the caseload for February is less than in November of the previous year. This may be due to excess winter deaths. The caseloads peak in November 2015 after which a steep decline emerges. 

The following Microsoft Power BI slide includes Table 1, Table 2, Figure 1 and Figure 2. To enlarge the slide to full-screen click on the double-headed arrow on the right hand side of the slide's grey footer panel, and to return to normal display use the escape 'Esc' key. In the tables the columns can be sorted by clicking the column header.

 

Source Department for Work and Pensions, Information and Analysis Directorate, Information Centre DWP Stat-Xplore website. The pension caseload is the number of clients on the administrative system at the reference date. Figures are adjusted in the Stat-Xplore tool and we have also rounded the caseload values to the nearest ten. Adding district caseloads figures may result in different values to the county totals and totals quoted elsewhere in this article.

Quarterly time series data is provided below for State Pension caseloads from May 2002, and Pension Credit caseloads (including the partner indicator) from November 2003. (The data has been sourced from the DWP Stat-Xplore website. Please note both sets of data are unrounded). 

Pension Credit claimants in Lancashire

Pension Credit is for pensioners in Great Britain at the lower end of the income scale. The benefit consists of Guarantee Credit, Savings Credit, or both. For Guarantee Credit the intention is that no-one who has reached the qualifying age need live on an income of less than guaranteed amounts for single people and couples. For single people this matches the new State Pension award. People receiving the new State Pension may not be eligible for Savings Credit.

The age from which people can get Pension Credit is the same as State Pension age.

As shown in Table 2, at the GB level, the claimant number for Pension Credit was just under 1.7 million in May 2018. In the Lancashire-12 area, the figure was 34,560, whilst for the Lancashire-14 area the number was 46,040. At the local level, the largest numbers of claimants were in the two unitary authorities of Blackburn with Darwen (4,820) and Blackpool (6,660). Within the Lancashire-12 area, Lancaster district has 4,060 claimants. Ribble Valley recorded by far the lowest number of claimants with just 1,010.

Pension Credit numbers have generally been on the decline since 2009, and one reason is the increase in the State Pension age for women.

Pension Credit is claimed on a household basis. In the case of a couple, either may claim if both are of qualifying age, but only one partner can get Pension Credit at any one time.

If partners are also included, the total numbers of beneficiaries of Pension Credit in May 2018 was 41,080 for the Lancashire-12 area, and 54,980 for the Lancashire 14- area. Within the Lancashire-14 area, Blackpool (7,820), Blackburn with Darwen (6,080), Lancaster and Preston (both 4,730) and Wyre (4,620) had the greatest number of beneficiaries of Pension Credit while Ribble Valley (1,130) had the lowest.

Pension Credit beneficiaries as a percentage of State Pension total caseloads

In the Lancashire-12 area, the total number of Pension Credit beneficiaries as a percentage of the State Pension total caseload was 16.7%. Both the Lancashire-12 and Lancashire-14 (18.6%) areas, had higher percentages than the GB average (including those abroad) of 15.7%, but the Lancashire-12 figure was lower than the 17.3% that applied to Great Britain only. Within the Lancashire-14 area, seven local authority areas had higher percentages of Pension Credit beneficiaries (as a percentage of the State Pension caseloads) than the GB average, with Blackburn with Darwen (28.4%), Blackpool (26.9%), Preston (22.6%), Pendle (22.4%) and Burnley (22.3%) having the highest proportions in the area. Ribble Valley (8.0%), South Ribble (12.1%) and Fylde (12.5%) had the lowest percentages in the Lancashire-14 area.

Average weekly amounts (£s) of Pension Credit

The average weekly amount of Pension Credit varies between a low of £48.78 in Ribble Valley up to a high of £65.63 in Blackburn with Darwen. The amount is largely determined by how far the claimant's total income, which may include an occupational pension and State Pension, falls short of the guaranteed amount. The State Pension element of income may have been reduced due to the number of years in which National Insurance contributions were not made, or if part of the NI contributions were contracted out. Reasons for missing some years of contributions may include maternity and raising a family, studying, working abroad or self-employment. As well as this we see in Figure 2 that average payments tend to be higher in local authorities with a higher proportion of claimants with partners. This indicates that more claimants are receiving the award for couples, intended to bring the claimants joint income up to match the guaranteed income for couples, which is currently £85.8 pounds higher than the single claimant's award.

The overall cost of State Pension and Pension Credit in the Lancashire County Council area

The government publishes yearly benefit expenditure caseload tables that detail the amounts spent on various benefits. Numbers are available for each of the 14 Lancashire local authorities, and for the Lancashire-12 area. The figures reveal how State Pension and Pension Credit form a large proportion of overall benefit expenditure. State Pension (£1.91bn) and Pension Credit (£100.9m) accounted for 61% of the total benefits expenditure in the Lancashire-12 area (£3.30bn) during the 2017/18 financial year.

Winter fuel payments

The government releases figures on winter fuel payments by local authority boundaries. These include the figures for the Lancashire-14 authorities that are split by gender and by four age-groups.

Housing exclusively for older people

There is a growing tendency towards housing developments that are exclusively for people who are either retired or are approaching retirement. The presence of these sites impacts on concentrations of older people in particular areas. Examples of sites in Lancashire include the following:

The major Buckshaw Village housing and commercial development to the south of Chorley includes the Oakbridge Retirement Village. The development offers facilities under the three distinct headings of independent living, assisted living or supported living. Brookside, which is in Ormskirk town centre, provides a large number of self contained apartments for people aged over 55 who may need help and support at home.

Housing 21 is said to be the UK's largest non-profit care provider and offers a range of homes for sale or rent, plus specialist care facilities. The housing option on the website gives access to a property search facility.  Typing 'Lancashire' into the location box highlights a number of sites across the Lancashire-14 area and beyond.

The Park Home Living website lists 80 separate parks in the Lancashire-14 area and beyond. The links to the individual websites provide details of ownership.

Further information and data

Appendix - detailed guidance on State Pension (RTF 7KB)

State Pension caseloads, May 2002 to May 2018 time series, quarterly data for Lancashire-14 areas, plus GB and North West data (EXCEL 40 KB)

Pension Credit caseloads, including partner indicator, November 2003 to May 2018 time series, quarterly data for Lancashire-14 areas, plus GB and North West data (EXCEL 57 KB)

 Page updated February 2019