asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the present rate of retirement pension for a single person and a married couple if the November 1978 increase had been in line with the 13·2 per cent. increase in earnings rather than his forecast of 11·4 per cent.; and what would be the total cost of making good the shortfall.
If retirement pensions and other long-term benefits had been increased by 13·2 per cent. in November 1978, the standard rates would have been £19·80 for a single person and £31·70 for a married couple. To increase the present rates to these levels would cost about £165 million a year in Great Britain. However, as I made clear to my hon. Friend in my reply to him on 17 January, there is no statutory obligation to make good the shortfall in last November's uprating, but the Government will nevertheless take this shortfall into account together with the general fiscal and monetary prospects when the time comes to decide the new rates of benefit that will take effect next November.—[Vol. 960, c. 771–3.]