Thank you, Mr Speaker—diolch. There are now 200,000 fewer pensioners in poverty compared with 2010. Rates of material deprivation among pensioners are at a record low, falling from 10% to 6% in the last 10 years. Pension credit also provides financial support for the most vulnerable pensioners and a passport to many other benefits.
Diolch yn fawr iawn, Mr Speaker. Older women in particular find themselves in relative poverty because 30% completely rely on the state pension for their income. That makes the recent findings by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman about maladministration by the Department and its failure to inform 1950s-born women about changes to their state pension allowance particularly galling. What is the Department’s response to the findings of the ombudsman and, more importantly, what will be done to rectify the situation that WASPI women in my constituency find themselves in?
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we have never spent as much as we do now on pensions. The triple lock has seen a £2,050-a-year increase in cash terms. The Government decided the changes 26 years ago, and that policy was continued by successive Governments, including during the 13 years of the Labour Government. In respect of all matters on an ongoing basis, we consider the PHSO, but clearly, it is a three-stage process and we are only at stage 1.
People across this country work hard and contribute all their lives; they are right to expect the state pension to be there for them when they retire. Given that the Government have failed to pay the state pension on time and have broken three manifesto promises so far, Ministers can surely accept that pensioners and the public cannot simply take them at their word. Ahead of our consideration of the Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill next Monday, will the Government publish their evidence for breaking the link with earnings in this way?
I am not sure that I am going to take any lessons from the hon. Gentleman. Before 2010, when the coalition came into power, the state pension was under £100. The new state pension is now £179. We have raised it by £2,000 in the last 10 years. We have enhanced the state pension massively through the triple lock. We did not even need to do anything last year, but we raised the state pension by 2.5%, and we will be increasing it by the double lock if the Bill passes next week.