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Pensioner Incomes

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 8 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what level of income a UK single pensioner needed in (a) 2005-06 and (b) 2006-07 to avoid being in relative poverty. (96182)

The figures are not available for 2005-06 or 2006-07. The first year’s information for the UK will be available in the Households Below Average Income 2005-06 publication, which is due for release in spring 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners in the UK were living in relative poverty in each year from 1976 to 2006; and if he will make a statement. (96184)

Information that is available can be found in the publication “Households Below Average Income 1994-95-2004-05.”

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the proportion of pensioners who will be in relative poverty, assuming no change in the take-up of pension credit, in (a) 2005-06, (b) 2010-11, (c) 2020-21 and (d) 2030-31; and if he will make a statement. (96314)

The information requested is not available. Figures for 2005-06 will be published in the Households Below Average Income 2005-06 report, which is due for release in spring 2007. The Government do not publish forward projections of relative poverty rates because of the number of modelling uncertainties involved.

Due to the measures we have taken since 1997, including the introduction of pension credit, pensioner poverty rates in Great Britain are currently at historically low levels, even while the country has been enjoying economic prosperity which traditionally benefits working age incomes relative to pensioner incomes. The effects of our proposed pension reforms are set out in the White Paper: “Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system” (Cm 6841). This includes securing the gains we have made against pensioner poverty into the future, through our commitment to continue uprating the standard minimum guarantee in pension credit with earnings into the long term.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking (a) to reduce and (b) to eliminate pensioner poverty. (96315)

The Government have introduced a suite of measures since 1997 to help older people enjoy a better standard of living, most notably the introduction of the minimum income guarantee and then pension credit; the creation of a dedicated Pension Service to improve service delivery and actively promote take-up of entitlements; above-inflation increases in the basic state pension; winter fuel payments for people over 60; and free television licences for people over 75. The value of the safetynet we provide for the poorest pensioners has increased by a third in real terms since 1997.

Between 1996-97 and 2004-05 the number of pensioners in Great Britain in relative low income, after housing costs, has fallen by over a third, from 2.8 million to 1.8 million. Once housing costs are accounted for, a pensioner today is now less likely to be in low income than any one else in society.

The White Paper “Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system” (Cm 6841) announced our commitment to secure these gains into the future by uprating both the basic state pension and the standard minimum guarantee in pension credit in line with earnings over the long term.