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Pensioners: Cost of Living

Volume 750: debated on Monday 13 May 2024

16. What steps his Department is taking to support pensioners with increases in the cost of living. (902767)

17. What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of support for pensioners with increases in the cost of living. (902768)

The Government have provided total support of over £108 billion to help households and individuals with higher bills. As I just said, in addition, the basic state pension has gone up by 8.5% this year.

But a new poll today shows that two thirds of people think the Government should urgently pay fair compensation to all WASPI women, including many in east Leeds, who were hit by the change to the state pension age. It has been over six weeks since the Secretary of State got the parliamentary ombudsman’s final report, but nearly three years since the ombudsman said that the Department for Work and Pensions had committed maladministration through its failure to properly inform affected women of the state pension age changes. With a WASPI woman dying every 13 minutes, time is not on their side. When will the Government stop dragging their feet? To help ensure justice, will the Government allow MPs to vote on a compensation package before the summer?

The hon. Gentleman has heard the Secretary of State reply at great length to a number of questions on that subject today. As he said, we are looking carefully at the report and considering what is a very complex set of recommendations and proposals to make sure that we do the right thing.

Ministers certainly seem to prefer the comfort of their own massaged figures to facts. The Trussell Trust, however, says it has seen a 36% rise in pensioners turning to food banks in the past six months, and that is likely to increase. The hard fact is that the UK devotes a smaller percentage of GDP to state pensions and pensioner benefits than most other advanced economies. When will they take pensioner poverty seriously and fix this scandal?

The households below average income statistics, which are cleared by the Office for National Statistics, show that 1% of low-income pensioners live in a household that has accessed a food bank within 12 months. Given all the effort we are putting into the ongoing campaign to increase access to pension credit and the success that campaign is having, I am very confident that we will make continued progress in reducing pensioner poverty.