You’re Entitled To It, London

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I was recently invited to BBC London to discuss with Paul Ross our new campaign to encourage people to claim their benefits. In the interview I explained that at present nationwide £1bn pounds are being unclaimed and in London it stands at around a fifth of that, around £200m pounds.

Examining those who in society are more likely to be affected than others, it was my suggestion that the tendency lays more towards pensioners and those working on the lower wage of income where children reside in poverty. And as for the reasons that families in such situations may not claim may be contributed to the feeling of charity pride, or in many circumstances being unaware of the fact that they are entitled to these benefits. This coupled with the general feeling that the claim process is complicated are all participating factors in the lack of claims.

Paul Ross raised an interesting point that was voiced by the charitable trust Age Concern. They believe that there is a certain fear from those who are entitled to claim such that they at some point, like the family tax credits, will have to be repaid. We feel that this is a major setback but we must reach out to those who need help. The system must be rationalised to make it easier but until that happens it’s our responsibility as mayoralty to help people; pensioners should never have to choose between a full stomach and a heated home. It is our responsibility to ensure that families living below the poverty line are able to receive help when they need it.

It is the thought of many that there may be disconnect between Boris Johnson and the government over the suggestion that people should not claim if they feel they don’t require it. To this I say the money is there, people are entitled and we as a society do not wish to see the vulnerable suffer. The measure of any civilised society after all is in the way it reaches out and helps the vulnerable.

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