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Pensioners: Economic Situation

Volume 494: debated on Monday 22 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assistance her Department is providing to pensioners adversely affected by the economic downturn. (280171)

The Government are continuing to support pensioners appropriately through the economic downturn. A £60 payment went to pensioners in early 2009, which took the total value of the Christmas bonus this year to £70.

An additional payment alongside the winter fuel payment for winters 2008-09 and 2009-10 of £50 for households with someone aged 60 to 79 and £100 for those with someone aged 80 or over. This means the winter fuel payments will be £250 and £400 respectively which provides a significant contribution towards an older person's winter fuel bill.

From April 2009 the pensioners on the lowest incomes saw the biggest increase to the pension credit standard minimum guarantee since it was introduced, taking the standard minimum guarantee to £130 a week for single people and £198.45 for couples.

In order to help those pensioners who receive income from savings and who may have been affected by lower interest rates, the Government will be increasing the threshold in pension credit (and housing and council tax benefit for those who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) from £6,000 to £10,000 from November 2009, so that pensioners can have up to £10,000 without it affecting their benefits.

The Government have committed to maintain the standard interest rate used to calculate support for mortgage interest at 6.08 per cent. for a further six months until the end of December 2009, to provide continued support for homeowners on pension credit who receive help with their mortgage.

The Government are also launching a tax back awareness campaign in autumn 2009 contacting all those in receipt of pension credit to encourage them to claim back tax they may have overpaid on their savings income and, where possible, register to receive interest on their savings tax-free in future.