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Pensioner Poverty

Volume 450: debated on Thursday 19 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what percentage of pensioners have lived in poverty in each region in each of the last 20 years, broken down by constituency. (93871)

Specific information regarding low income for Great Britain is available in “Households Below Average Income 1994/95-2004/05”. The threshold of below 60 per cent. contemporary median income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income.

The data source does not allow us to provide robust estimates below the level of Government office region. There is no suitable data source for years prior to 1994-95.

The number and percentage of pensioners in households with low incomes, by Government office regions, Scotland and Wales over the period 1994-95 to 2004-05, are presented in tables 1 and 2.

Table 1: Number of pensioners survey

Million

Three-year averages

1994-95 to 1996-97

1995-96 to 1997-98

1996-97 to 1998-99

1997-98 to 1998-99

1998-99 to 2000-01

1999-2000 to 2001-02

2000-01 to 2002-03

2001-02 to 2003-04

2002-03 to 2004-05

North East

0.14

0.14

0.14

0.13

0.13

0.12

0.11

0.10

0.08

North West and Merseyside

0.31

0.32

0.33

0.32

0.30

0.28

0.27

0.26

0.24

Yorkshire and the Humber

0.25

0.26

0.27

0.27

0.26

0.24

0.21

0.19

0.17

East Midlands

0.19

0.20

0.20

0.20

0.20

0.19

0.19

0.18

0.17

West Midlands

0.22

0.25

0.26

0.25

0.25

0.24

0.25

0.23

0.21

Eastern

0.29

0.25

0.26

0.26

0.26

0.24

0.23

0.22

0.21

London

0.29

0.30

0.30

0.30

0.29

0.28

0.25

0.24

0.21

South East

0.34

0.34

0.34

0.34

0.33

0.31

0.30

0.29

0.27

South West

0.25

0.27

0.27

0.26

0.25

0.24

0.23

0.21

0.19

Wales

0.14

0.14

0.14

0.14

0.13

0.13

0.12

0.12

0.10

Scotland

0.24

0.24

0.24

0.22

0.22

0.21

0.19

0.18

0.17

Notes: 1. Numbers are provided using a three-year moving average, as single-year estimates do not provide a robust guide to year-on-year changes. Hence, figures are not consistent with any previously published single-year estimates and there may be differences in changes over time. In circumstances such as a change in trend, moving averages will show less variation than single-year estimates. 2. Table shows number of pensioners in millions rounded to the nearest 10,000. 3. In this answer low income is determined for individuals as living in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of the GB median. Source: Family Resources.

Table 2: Percentage of pensioners survey

Three-year averages

1994-95 to 1996-97

1995-96 to 1997-98

1996-97 to 1998-99

1997-98 to 1998-99

1998-99 to 2000-01

1999-2000 to 2001-02

2000-01 to 2002-03

2001-02 to 2003-04

2002-03 to 2004-05

North East

31

31

30

28

27

25

24

20

18

North West and Merseyside

26

26

27

26

25

24

23

21

20

Yorkshire and the Humber

29

29

31

30

29

27

24

22

19

East Midlands

26

28

28

28

27

26

25

23

22

West Midlands

27

27

28

27

27

26

26

24

22

Eastern

28

26

28

27

27

24

23

22

21

London

28

29

30

30

28

28

25

24

21

South East

25

24

24

24

23

22

21

20

18

South West

26

28

27

27

25

24

23

21

18

Wales

24

25

25

25

24

23

21

21

18

Scotland

28

27

27

26

25

23

22

20

18

Notes: 1. Percentages are provided using a three-year moving average, as single-year estimates do not provide a robust guide to year-on-year changes. Hence, figures are not consistent with any previously published single-year estimates and there may be differences in changes over time. In circumstances such as a change in trend, moving averages will show less variation than single-year estimates. 2. In this answer low income is determined for individuals as living in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of the GB median. Source: Family Resources.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average weekly income was of the three poorest deciles of pensioners in each of the last 20 years. (93872)

Specific information regarding low income for Great Britain is available in “Households Below Average Income 1994/95-2004/05”. The threshold of below 60 per cent. contemporary median income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income.

The survey from which estimates are provided started in 1994-95. There is no suitable data source for years prior to 1994-95.

The median weekly household income of the three lowest deciles of pensioners for the years 1994-95 to 2004-05, are presented in table 1.

Table 1: Median weekly household income in pounds per week equivalised, of pensioners in the lowest three deciles–1994-95 to 2004-05, after housing costs

Decile 1

Decile 2

Decile 3

1994-95

93

122

136

1995-96

98

123

137

1996-97

100

126

141

1997-98

101

128

143

1998-99

102

130

147

1999-2000

106

137

155

2000-01

113

145

165

2001-02

116

153

176

2002-03

122

159

184

2003-04

121

167

191

2004-05

130

177

203

Notes:

1. Median weekly household incomes are shown as equivalised pounds in 2004-05 prices. Equivalisation is the process by which household income is adjusted by household size and composition as a proxy for material living standards.

2. The median has been used as the measure of the average income in the three lowest deciles in line with HBAI conventions. This median measure is preferred to the mean because it measures the central income of the group and for the lowest decile it is less influenced by possibly unrepresentative outliers.

3. All estimates are subject to sampling error and response bias and small changes between years may be influenced by these. While results for individual years may be sensitive to the way in which household incomes are adjusted for size and composition, the picture of changes over time is less sensitive to this.

Source:

Family Resources Survey

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Government are spending to tackle pensioner poverty. (94923)

As a result of the measures we have introduced since 1997, we will be spending £10.5 billion more on pensioners this year than would otherwise have been the case. Our policies target help on the poorest pensioners in particular, with over £5 billion of the additional money going to the poorest third of pensioners. Between 1996-97 and 2004-05, the number of pensioners living in relative low income, fell from 2.8 million to 1.8 million, and a pensioner in Britain today is no more likely to be in poverty than anyone else.

In total, in 2006-07 we plan to spend £78.8 billion in cash benefits for pensioners. Additional help is provided through benefits in kind such as free prescriptions, eye tests, bus travel and television licences, and help with home insulation. Around £14 billion will be spent on benefits targeted on low-income pensioners: pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit. This ensures that no single pensioner need live on less than £114.05 a week, and no couple on less than £174.05 a week.