October 23 2001
An unpublished note by Tony Lynes about the disappointing results of the Government’s campaign to improve the take-up of the Minimum Income Guarantee
The Government launched a take-up campaign for the so-called “Minimum Income Guarantee” at the end of May 2000. It involved television and other advertising and direct mail shots. The object was to trace between 400,000 and 700,000 pensioners believed to have been entitled to income support in 1998-99. More recent figures suggest that the number of non-claimants in 1999-2000 was between 300,000 and 600,000. The size of the target for the take-up campaign was, therefore, probably at least 400,000.
Between the end of May and mid-November 2000, 2.4 million letters were sent to pensioners who it was thought might be entitled. A further 102,000 were sent in March 2001. By the end of June 2001, the MIG claim line had answered 579,260 telephone calls and 571,900 postal claim packs had been sent out. Replying to a Parliamentary Question on 22 January 2001, the Minister, Jeff Rooker, said that the take-up campaign had by then cost about £9 million. More recently, the cost of advertising alone has been put at just over £4 million. Neither of these figures includes the cost of processing the resulting claims, including those which were unsuccessful.
By the end of September 2001, as a result of the campaign, 240,186 claims had been received and 121,159 pensioners were getting, on average, an extra £20 a week — a total of around £2.4 million per week. About 95% of these claims had been received by the end of May. The campaign can therefore be said to have come to an end. It has resulted in about one in four of the target population receiving the benefit to which they are entitled. The successful claimants are little more than one in five of those who requested claim packs and only half of those who completed the 40-page claim form.