Guaranteeing a minimum income in old age? Means testing in the twenty-first century -PhD Thesis-

Publication type

Thesis/Degree/Other Honours


Publication date

June 1, 2003


This thesis analyses existing research on take up, highlighting gaps in understanding and explores the strengths and weaknesses of the theory base. Socio-economic, demographic and attitudinal trends are analysed to elucidate the impact these have had, and will have, on both the proportion entitled to Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) and the take up rate. Current policy was analysed to explore the importance that take up has for New Labour and the prospects of current government policy for improving take up. Substantial new analysis on take up is conducted on the Family Resources Survey, the British Household Panel Survey, the Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey and the Family Expenditure Survey.

Caseload take up of MIG was estimated at 66.2 per cent in 2001/02, a more up-to-date estimate than currently available elsewhere. Caseload take up rate for Pension Credit in 2003 is predicted to be around 58.1 per cent. Take up, where it happened, was found to be associated with, amongst other factors, reporting that finances were difficult and bereavement. It was predicted that, following take up, we could expect to see extra income to be mostly spent on household goods and services, housing expenditure, travel and leisure activities which were themselves factors associated with improved quality of life.

This thesis found that the problem of non-take up we have faced in the past is likely to be very different to that to be experienced in the future as entitlement to Pension Credit is extended to a much larger proportion of the pensioner population than have had an entitlement to MIG. It was argued that the take up rate of MIG has been falling and that it is likely to fall further with the Pension Credit. Current policy intervention, intended to improve take up, does not look likely to arrest this trend of falling take up. The conclusion drawn from the research within the thesis is that this trend of falling take up could be challenged by improvements in take up campaigning activity. Substantial improvements to take up rate could be delivered by increasing the pro-activity of the Pension Service in delivering benefits and through better use of existing data to highlight and target those missing out on their benefits.



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