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Pensions

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 13 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measures he is taking to ensure that all pensioner households receive their full entitlement of benefits. (76017)

The Pension Service has written to every pensioner household to tell them about pension credit. In the last eight months the Pension Service has carried out a number of campaign initiatives such as the “You're Missing Out” direct mailings targeted at 1.5 million people most likely to be entitled. Full page adverts have also been taken out in the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Sun, News of the World, Daily Record, and the People.

The Pension Service local service also offers a full benefit entitlement check to customers that focus on a range of entitlements including pension credit.

Since 5 December 2005 customers who contact the pension credit application line to make an application have also been able to claim housing benefit and council tax benefit during the one phone call.

Over the financial year the Pension Service will be:

Writing again to everyone we believe may have an entitlement to pension credit, encouraging them to apply and advising how the Pension Service can help them do so— over two million mailings are planned.

Offering face-to-face visits and a full benefit entitlement check to the most highly eligible and vulnerable pensioners—with plans to undertake over one million successful home visits.

Handling over 1.3 million calls from customers and making telephone calls to around 250,000 customers to encourage and help them to apply for pension credit and council tax benefit and housing benefit—at one time and with one call.

Continuing to issue an invitation to claim the state pension approximately four months prior to customers reaching their state pension age.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners living in Chorley constituency are in receipt of pension credit. (76018)

The most recent number of households and individuals receiving pension credit in the Chorley constituency are in the following table:

Number of recipients

Households

4,060

Individual beneficiaries

5,000

Notes: 1. These figures are early estimates. The preferred data source for figures supplied by DWP is the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS). However, the figures provided are the latest available figures which are taken from the GMS scan at 17 February 2006. These are adjusted using the historical relationship between WPLS and GMS data to give an estimate of the final WPLS figure. Average amounts are displayed as at the scan reference data of 17 February 2006. 2. Caseloads are rounded to the nearest ten. 3. Parliamentary constituencies are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant postcode directory. 4. Individual beneficiaries comprise claimants and partners and may include partners who are aged less than 60. Source: DWP: 100 per cent. data from the Generalised Matching Service (GMS). Pension credit scan taken as at 17 February 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the cost of uprating the basic state pension at (a) earnings growth and (b) 5 per cent. per annum in each year from 2006 to 2030, assuming price indexation as the benchmark. (70297)

The information requested is provided in the following table:

Net costs (£ billion)

(a) Earnings growth

(b) 5 per cent. per annum

2006

0.4

0.6

2007

0.7

1.3

2008

1.3

2.0

2009

1.9

2.6

2010

2.6

3.4

2015

6.3

7.4

2020

10.7

12.1

2025

16.8

18.6

2030

24.5

26.9

Notes: 1. Figures are in 2006-07 price terms in £billions rounded to the nearest £100 million. 2. Costs are measured against current policy with basic state pension linked to prices. 3. The costs are net of income related benefits. 4. Figures are for Great Britain and overseas expenditure. Source: The figures are based on departmental expenditure forecasts and simulation models.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will post on his departmental website his response to the report of the Parliamentary Ombudsman on occupational pensions; (76304)

(2) when he was first informed of all the recommendations in the report of the Parliamentary Ombudsman on occupational pensions;

(3) what factors he took into account when deciding not to follow the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s recommendation to consider her report Trusting in the Pensions Promise for a period of two months before responding.

The Department first received draft recommendations from the Ombudsman on 21 December 2005 and responded provisionally in January 2006 A further draft was provided by the Ombudsman on 13 February which the Department also responded to. The recommendations in the published report are substantially the same as were in these two drafts. Therefore, when the report was published the Department had already had over two months to consider the issues raised. Having decided that it was not able to accept four out of the five recommendations made by the Ombudsman, the Department saw no reason to delay responding to her published report. To do so could have raised expectations in the affected members which would not be met.

In his oral statement on 16 March the Secretary of State informed the House that he would publish a full response to the Ombudsman’s report. This response is on the departmental website at www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/dwp/2006/pensions/response-ombudsman.pdf.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on progress with the admission of the MG Rover pension scheme to the Pension Protection Fund. (76148)

The MG Rover pension schemes are currently in a Pension Protection Fund (PPF) assessment period.

The PPF works with scheme trustees to progress schemes through the assessment periods as quickly as possible.

During the assessment period, scheme members receive the PPF level of benefits.