Conference Probe Into £41.9 Million Unclaimed Benefit

Unclaimed benefits for pensioners in Gwent amounts to £41.9 million per year and next week experts will examine whether the system is too complicated.

Newport West AM Rosemary Butler is hosting a conference in the city on Monday for invited representatives of relevant organisations to look at the problems affecting benefit claimants.

Recent figures suggest that in Wales up to £100 million of council tax benefit remains unclaimed every year and there is an estimated £200 million in unclaimed benefits generally.

Mrs Butler said: “It’s quite clear that the benefit system in many ways is working very well, but it’s also clear that a lot more needs to be done.

“The elderly are particularly vulnerable, but there are many other groups including single parents, the disabled and (increasingly these days) the unemployed who need help and guidance. That’s why I decided to organise this conference to examine all the gaps.”

She added that one of the hurdles they had to tackle was the stigma associated with the claiming of benefits.

Guest speakers at the conference, which is taking place at the Riverfront Theatre, will include Gwenda Thomas AM, deputy minister for social services; Sarah Stone, deputy older people’s commissioner for Wales and Den Foley, director of Newport Citizens Advice Bureau.