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State Retirement Pensions

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people had their pension credit payments ended for remaining abroad for more that four weeks at a time in each year since 2003; and what the average amount of time was for payments to be restarted once such a claimant had returned to the UK in each of those years; (197480)

(2) what estimate he has made of the cost of extending from four to 13 weeks the amount of time that a claimant can be abroad before their pension credit payments are ended.

Information on the number of pension credit claims that end because the recipient has gone abroad for more than four weeks is not collected.

For planning purposes we estimate that around 50,000 pension credit recipients go abroad for between four and 13 weeks each year, based on data from the International Passenger Survey on the number of visits abroad by length of stay for the general population of people aged 65 and over.

Customers would have to make a new claim for pension credit on their return, processed in the usual way. This is burdensome for both the customer and the Pensions Disability and Carers Service staff.

Extending the period to 13 weeks will be of sufficient duration to allow nearly 90 per cent. of those customers who would otherwise have had their pension credit stopped after four weeks of a temporary absence, to retain entitlement.

We estimated that the net cost of extending the absence abroad period from four to 13 weeks over this comprehensive spending review period could be around £2 million in each full year from introduction.

The proposal to extend the period of time people can go abroad and still keep their pension credit from four to 13 weeks forms part of a package of pension measures that will make claiming benefit entitlements simpler and less intrusive and deliver extra support to pensioners. Taken together the wider package of measures represents more than £500 million of additional spending on pensioners over the next three years.

Notes:

1. Estimates represent combined administrative and benefit costs/savings.

2. Estimated costs and savings are consistent with the 2008 Budget settlement but it should be noted that they are based on a set of assumptions and are subject to change as new data becomes available.