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Volume 116: debated on Friday 15 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will estimate the cost of giving single pensioners with no other sources of income an extra £5 per week and pensioner couples £8 per week assuming no change in social security benefits.

[pursuant to his reply, 28 April 1987, c. 113]: Information is not available on the net cost of such a change. The basic retirement pension is not paid on an income-related basis, and no firm estimate is available of the numbers of pensioners for whom it is the sole source of income. Most pensioners who have little more than the basic pension would be entitled to supplementary pension and housing benefit. About 375,000 single pensioners and 25,000 pensioner couples who receive supplementary pension have no significant source of income other than their basic retirement pension and supplementary pension/housing benefit. It would cost about £110 million gross to increase retirement pension by £5 or £8 to this group. Assuming supplementary pension and housing benefit levels remained unchanged, the net cost of such an increase in retirement pension would be substantially less. An accurate estimate could be made only at disproportionate cost.