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Pensioner Poverty

Volume 492: debated on Monday 11 May 2009

11. What steps his Department is taking to alleviate pensioner poverty; and if he will make a statement. (273494)

Compared with 1997, we are now spending £13 billion more per year on pensioners, particularly those on the lowest incomes. As a result, we have lifted 900,000 pensioners out of relative poverty.

When I was manning a stall in Bracknell town centre recently and asking people to sign a petition on pensioner poverty, a large number of pensioners asked me why the Chancellor had not zero-rated or stopped taxing their unearned income, given that they were on the basic rate of tax. I could not answer that, and I cannot believe that he has not done so. Perhaps the Minister would like to explain why that has not happened.

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will have taken the opportunity, when discussing these matters with pensioners, to point out that we are spending £13 billion extra on pensioners this year, and that, over the term of this Government, we are spending £96 billion more than we would have spent had we followed the policies of his Government when we came to power. I am sure he is also aware that the changes to personal allowances in the recent Budget mean that almost half of pensioners do not pay tax at all.