Non-take-up of Income Support Measures
People on low incomes, whether on social security benefit or in work, are entitled – provided they meet certain requirements – to income support. The aim of income support is both to help towards unexpected and unavoidable expenses and to assist with normal rent and healthcare expenses. Some of these eligible people do not take advantage of the support, however. SEO Economic Research was commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment to calculate the non-take-up rates for five schemes in the years 2006-2008. These schemes were health care allowance, rent benefit, long-term supplement, individual special assistance and categorical special assistance for social participation by school-age children.Non-take-up of rent and health care allowances was much lower, at 17-18%, than that of long-term supplement, at 60%. People with incomes around the social minimum tend to make greater use of the schemes. Who are the non-utilizers? Low income people in work make far less use than pensioners or people on social security benefit, and this is true of both those in regular employment and the self-employed. In the case of rent benefits, for instance, non-take-up among the self-employed (with incomes around the social minimum) is over 30%, whereas the average non-take-up rate in this group is 7%. In the case of health care allowance, 20% of those in work who are entitled to it (with incomes around the social minimum) do not receive it, as against the average rate of 8%. Indeed, long-term supplement is only taken up by a few percent of those in work who are entitled to it. A group with a very high take-up rate is benefit recipients: these are known to the local authorities by name (with their income, wealth, etc.) and are therefore easy to contact.
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