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Pensioner Households

Volume 402: debated on Thursday 3 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether pensioners will be able to withdraw their pensions using their state pensions books from the Post Office under the new proposals by Royal Mail to introduce Direct Payment. [106098]

The Department for Work and Pensions is introducing Direct Payment as the normal method of paying benefits and pensions from April this year. This means that order books are being phased out.Customers need to take no action until they are contacted. When it is their turn to change, they will be supplied with information (including letters and leaflets) which clearly set out the account options as part of the move to Direct Payment. The information material gives the key features of the various types of accounts and explains how people can access their money at the Post Office, if they wish to do so.We have always recognised that there will be a small number of people who cannot manage to access their benefit or pension by Direct Payment. An alternative method of payment will be used for this group and will be in place when it is needed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have taken stakeholder pensions; and when he expects the Government's take-up target to be met. [106372]

Information specifically concerning the number of individuals taking out a stakeholder pension is not collected. However, figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that by the end of December 2002 1,250,243 stakeholder pensions had been sold.Stakeholder pensions were introduced as part of our long-term reforms to ensure that everyone has the chance to save for a decent income in retirement. Stakeholder pensions are intended to provide a low-charge pension option for those people who do not have access to a good company pension scheme with an employer contribution. There is no specific take-up target.The impact of stakeholder pensions on saving for retirement extends beyond their sales alone/stakeholder pensions have driven down other personal pension charges; some employers have widened access to their occupational pension schemes; and other employers have set up group personal pensions with an employer contribution.