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The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Alan Johnson): I have today placed in the Library the quarterly progress report on the pension credit campaign, giving the numbers of households receiving pension credit overall, and broken down by guarantee and savings credit by Government office region and parliamentary constituency.
The figures show that there were 2.08 million households or 2.46 million individuals getting pension credit guarantee awards as at 31 December 2004. Definitive national statistics figures on pension credit take up will not be available for some time, but we estimate that that represents take-up in excess of 80 per cent.
As the Pensions Commission have noted, single women pensioners are poorer than single men of the same age, and I am particularly pleased therefore that the figures indicate as many as 90 per cent. of single women pensioners entitled to the guarantee credit are already receiving it.
Mainly as a result of higher than expected numbers taking up their guarantee credit entitlement, pension credit spending is projected to exceed £6 billion in 200405higher than forecast in the last Budget.
The total number of households receiving pension credit at 31 December was 2.65 million, 3.22 million individuals. Between 1 October and 31 December around 30,000 additional households, 40,000 individuals, started to receive pension credit.
The average weekly award is £41.67 and 1.99 million households, 2.41 million individuals, are getting more money than was the case under the minimum income guarantee.