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Pensioners: Social Security Benefits

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 25 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answer of 20 July 2009, Official Report, columns 853-56W, on pensioners: social security benefits, what the average monetary value of benefits in kind provided to (a) single pensioners and (b) pensioner couples in York in respect of (i) NHS services, (ii) social services, (iii) travel concessions, (iv) television licences, (v) insulation and home repairs and improvement grants and (vi) other services has been for periods later than those given in that answer for which information is available. (321694)

A wide range of services and benefits in kind are available to older people and these are administered both centrally and locally. As a result, the information is not available in the format requested: some information is not collected and some could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The information which is available is given as follows.

(i) NHS services

People aged 60 and over are able to claim free prescriptions and eye tests on the grounds of age. Detailed information on prescription charges is not held in the format requested.

In financial year 2008-09, 90,380 free NHS sight tests were given to people aged 60 and over within the North Yorkshire and York PCT area, costing an estimated £1,789,524.

There is no automatic entitlement for adult pensioners to NHS optical vouchers or free dental treatment. Individuals may qualify for these benefits if they are in receipt of certain qualifying benefits, or if they have been assessed as eligible for assistance under the NHS Low Income Scheme. Information on the value of such NHS services provided to patients of pensionable age who qualify on the basis of their personal economic circumstances is not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

(ii) Social services

The gross current expenditure by York council on social services for people aged 65 or over for the financial year 2008-09 was £30.8 million1.

(iii) Travel concessions

The statutory minimum travel concession, introduced in April 2008, gives those aged 60 or over and eligible disabled people free off-peak local bus travel in any part of England. The Government provide around £1 billion a year to fund the concession.

Travel concession schemes are provided through local authorities, which have flexibility to enhance their schemes to offer more than the statutory minimum, so there are local variations in what is offered and take-up of concessionary travel also varies from one area to another. Therefore it is not possible to quantify the value of the benefit in kind in a specific local authority area.

(iv) Television licences

Free television licences for people aged 75 or over were introduced in November 2000. TV Licensing, who administer free licences as agents for the BBC, are not able to provide geographical breakdowns of licences issued. However, figures are available for the number of households with at least one person aged 75 or over receiving winter fuel payments in York local authority. These people would be eligible for a free television licence. 12,180 households received winter fuel payments in York local authority in the year 2008-09.

The television licence fee for the year 2009-10 is £142.50 for a colour television licence, and £48.00 for a black and white television licence.

(v) Insulation

The Warm Front Scheme is the Government's main programme for tackling fuel poverty in vulnerable households in the private sector in England. Warm Front provides grants for heating, insulation and energy efficiency measures. For the year 2009-10, 132 single pensioner households and 100 two-pensioner households received Warm Front assistance in the York local authority area, and the average spend on each of those households was £1,870.08 and £1,675.20 respectively.

1 Source:

RO3 and PSS EX1 returns.


Gross expenditure includes income from client contributions, but excludes capital charges and certain income items which count as expenditure elsewhere in the public sector, such as contributions from primary care trusts. This is to avoid double counting within the aggregate public sector accounts of the money involved.