Cash-strapped pensioners in the borough are missing out on £15.5m of vital benefits for older people on low incomes, shock new figures reveal.
Charity Independent Age says the vast majority of households in the borough who are entitled to Pension Credit do not receive a penny of it.
Other news; Residents asked for views on plans for two new housing developments
Data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) shows millions of pounds earmarked for the poorest retirees is not reaching those it should.
Figures for the borough’s constituencies range between £4.69m and £5.59m of money not being paid out each year.
The shock announcement has been slammed by Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, who is backing Independent Age’s campaign Credit Where It’s Due to demand the Government does more to ensure those who are eligible for benefits are paid them.
The scandal over Pension Credit is something of a double whammy for local older people after automatic TV licences for over-75s were scrapped, with Pension Credit being used as the marker for who will have to shell out £154.50 a year to watch their favourite programmes and who will not.
Independent Age believes more than one million UK pensioners do not receive their full Pension Credit entitlement, creating a staggering annual shortfall of £3.5bn earmarked for the poorest older people in the country.
Ms Nandy said: “These figures produced by Independent Age are shocking.
“That more than four in 10 pensioner households are not receiving the Pension Credit they are entitled to shows that this government is not serious about eradicating the growing problem of pensioner poverty.
“With the news that the BBC have been forced by this government into cutting the free TV licence for over-75s who are not receiving Pension Credit, it is even more unforgivable that there is no attempt to proactively ensure that all of those entitled to Pension Credit are receiving it.
“Pension Credit can transform the lives of the poorest older people.
“I fully support Independent Age’s Credit Where It’s Due campaign which calls on the government to take the necessary steps to ensure that 100 per cent of those entitled to Pension Credit receive it.”
The Wigan constituency has the worst figures in the borough, with 2,604 of the 3,290 eligible households not receiving the credit, meaning an average shortfall of £5,592,915.
In Makerfield 2,153 of 2,720 households who could receive Pension Credit get nothing, meaning pensioners are entitled to £4,690,574.
And in Leigh there is £5,234,057 not reaching the pockets of those it should be, with 2,970 households eligible for Pension Credit and 2,351 not getting it.
Independent Age says one in six UK pensioners currently lives in poverty, describing Pension Credit as a crucial safety net.
There are two parts to Pension Credit. The Guarantee Credit tops up weekly income to a minimum level of £167.25 for single pensioners and £255.25 for a couple.
Pensioners who reached state pension age before April 6, 2016 and have savings or an income higher than the basic level can also receive Savings Credit, giving up to an extra £13.73 per week for someone on their own or £15.35 for a couple.