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Pensioners: Poverty

Volume 479: debated on Monday 29 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of pensioner households living in poverty (a) before housing costs and (b) after housing costs in each of the last 10 years, broken down by (i) region, (ii) local authority and (iii) constituency. (185892)

Specific information regarding low income for the United Kingdom is available in "Households Below Average Income 1994/95-2005/06".

The data source does not allow us to provide robust numbers for estimates below the level of Government office region. Information on the numbers and percentages of pensioners below 60 per cent. of contemporary median income is set out in the following tables.

Pensioners living in households with less than 60 per cent. of contemporary median household income, by region or country: 1995-96 to 2005-06, three-year averages

Number (million)

1995-96to 1997-98

1996-97 to 1998-99

1997-98 to 1999-2000

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

2003-04 to 2005-06

Before housing costs

North East

0.12

0.12

0.13

0.14

0.13

0.12

0.11

0.10

0.09

North West

0.30

0.32

0.32

0.31

0.30

0.30

0.31

0.30

0.29

Yorkshire and Humberside

0.25

0.26

0.26

0.26

0.24

0.24

0.22

0.21

0.20

East Midlands

0.20

0.22

0.23

0.23

0.23

0.23

0.22

0.21

0.20

West Midlands

0.24

0.25

0.24

0.24

0.25

0.26

0.26

0.25

0.24

East of England

0.22

0.24

0.24

0.25

0.24

0.24

0.23

0.22

0.20

London

0.20

0.21

0.21

0.20

0.21

0.21

0.21

0.20

0.19

South East

0.29

0.30

0.31

0.31

0.31

0.31

0.31

0.30

0.28

South West

0.25

0.26

0.26

0.25

0.25

0.26

0.25

0.22

0.21

Wales

0.14

0.15

0.15

0.15

0.15

0.14

0.14

0.14

0.14

Scotland

0.24

0.23

0.22

0.23

0.21

0.20

0.20

0.20

0.19

Northern Ireland

1

1

1

0.08

0.07

0.07

0.07

0.07

0.07

After housing costs

North East

0.15

0.15

0.15

0.14

0.13

0.13

0.11

0.09

0.08

North West

0.33

0.35

0.33

0.32

0.31

0.30

0.29

0.26

0.24

Yorkshire and Humberside

0.27

0.28

0.28

0.27

0.26

0.23

0.21

0.18

0.16

East Midlands

0.21

0.22

0.22

0.21

0.21

0.20

0.19

0.17

0.16

West Midlands

0.26

0.27

0.25

0.26

0.26

0.26

0.25

0.22

0.19

East of England

0.26

0.27

0.27

0.27

0.25

0.25

0.24

0.22

0.18

London

0.32

0.32

0.32

0.30

0.30

0.27

0.26

0.23

0.21

South East

0.36

0.36

0.36

0.35

0.34

0.33

0.32

0.28

0.24

South West

0.28

0.28

0.27

0.26

0.25

0.25

0.22

0.20

0.17

Wales

0.15

0.15

0.14

0.13

0.14

0.13

0.12

0.11

0.11

Scotland

0.27

0.26

0.24

0.23

0.23

0.22

0.21

0.19

0.16

Northern Ireland

1

1

1

0.07

0.07

0.06

0.05

0.05

0.05

1 Not available.

Source: Family Resources Survey

Percentage of pensioners living in households with less than 60 per cent. of contemporary median household income, by region or country: 1995-96 to 2005-06, three-year averages

Percentage

1995-96 to 1997-98

1996-97 to 1998-99

1997-98 to 1999-2000

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

2003-04 to 2005-06

Before housing costs

North East

26

26

28

30

28

26

23

22

20

North West

25

27

27

26

25

25

25

24

24

Yorkshire and Humberside

28

30

30

29

28

27

25

24

22

East Midlands

28

30

31

31

31

30

29

27

26

West Midlands

26

27

26

26

26

27

27

26

25

East of England

23

25

26

26

25

25

24

22

20

London

20

20

21

20

21

20

21

20

20

South East

20

21

22

22

22

22

21

20

19

South West

26

26

27

25

25

25

25

22

20

Wales

26

26

26

26

26

25

26

24

25

Scotland

27

27

25

26

24

23

22

22

21

Northern Ireland

1

1

1

30

30

28

26

25

27

After housing costs

North East

33

32

31

31

28

27

23

20

17

North West

28

29

28

27

25

25

24

21

19

Yorkshire and Humberside

31

32

32

31

29

26

24

20

17

East Midlands

29

30

30

29

28

27

25

22

21

West Midlands

28

29

28

28

27

28

26

23

20

East of England

28

29

28

28

26

25

24

21

18

London

31

31

32

30

30

27

26

23

21

South East

26

26

26

24

24

23

22

19

16

South West

29

28

28

26

25

24

22

19

16

Wales

27

26

26

24

24

23

22

20

20

Scotland

31

29

28

27

26

25

23

21

18

Northern Ireland

1

1

1

27

26

23

21

20

19

1 Not available.

Notes: 1. Three-survey year averages are given for each of the regions as robust single-year estimates cannot be produced because of the sample sizes for individual regions. 2. The income measures used to derive the estimates shown employ the same methodology as the Department for Work and Pensions publication “Households Below Average Income” (HBAI) series, which uses disposable household income, adjusted (or "equivalised") for household size and composition, as an income measure as a proxy for standard of living. 3. The figures are based on OECD equivalisation factors.

4. Figures are based on survey data and as such are subject to a degree of sampling and non-sampling error. 5. The government's preferred measures of low income for pensioners are based on incomes measured after housing costs. As part of PSA Delivery Agreement 17 three indicators of low income poverty will be monitored: the percentage of pensioners below 60 per cent. contemporary median income, 50 per cent. median income and 60 per cent. of 1998-99 median income uprated in line with prices. Source: Family Resources Survey

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to reduce levels of poverty in persons aged over 65 years; what research has been (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated by his Department on the causes of poverty in persons aged over 65 years in the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (223426)

[holding answer 10 September 2008]: In 1997 the poorest pensioners lived on £68.80. Today no pensioner need live on less than £124.05. The Government have introduced a number of measures to reduce the levels of poverty in older people. The number of pensioners in poverty in the UK has fallen from 2.9 million in 1998-99 to 2.1 million in 2006-07 (as measured by 60 per cent. of contemporary median income after housing costs). Once housing costs are accounted for, pensioners are less likely to be in poverty than the population as a whole.

Measures taken include the introduction of the minimum income guarantee and its successor pension credit. The value of the safety-net we provide for the poorest pensioners has increased by over a third in real terms since 1997. We have successively raised the standard minimum guarantee in pension credit by earnings in every year since its introduction. Our commitments in the Pensions Act 2007 to continue to uprate the pension credit standard minimum guarantee in line with earnings over the long term, and to reintroduce the earnings link to basic state pension from 2012, or by the end of the next parliament, will help secure these gains into the future.

In addition we have introduced winter fuel payments for those aged 60 or over, with a higher amount for those 80 or over. For winter 2008-09 we will make an additional payment of £50 for households with someone aged 60-79 and £100 for those with someone aged 80 or over. We have also introduced free television licences for people aged 75 or over and made above inflation increases in the basic state pension.

The Department for Work and Pensions has undertaken a range of research over the last five years to investigate the nature of poverty in older people. For example, research has been commissioned to better understand older people's experiences of poverty and the link between income poverty, deprivation and age. In working to ensure all pensioners take up their entitlements to pension credit, the Department has also undertaken research to explore the barriers and triggers to claiming pension credit.