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Volume 884: debated on Wednesday 22 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the cost of increasing the national insurance pension to 34 per cent. of the national average earnings of male manual workers for a single person, and 50 per cent. for a married couple.

This would cost about £2,400 million a year more than the cost of retirement pensions at their current level, without allowing for accompanying changes in other benefits.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is her estimate of the additional amounts payable in pensions in 1975–76, 1976–77 and 1977–78, respectively, if the earnings rule threshold were raised to £20 for 1975–76, to £35 in 1976–77, and to £50 in 1977–78, and if the retirement condition continued to be linked to the earnings rule threshold for the time being in force.

On the basis of the numbers who would under the present rule be deferring retirement in 1975–76, the additional amounts payable in pensions in terms of the £11·60 pension are estimated to be £60 million in 1975–76, £105 million in 1976–77 and £135 million in 1977–78. If one adds to these figures the amounts lost in contributions, and subtracts the amount of short-term benefits which would no longer be payable, the cost to the National Insurance Fund comes out at £60 million, £110 million and £145 million respectively. The first and second of these three figures are revised ones, and supersede the earlier estimates of £80 million and £125 million respectively which I gave to Standing Committee B on 3rd December—[c. 51.]—and 5th December—[c. 73.] last.