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8 Jun 2005 : Column 607W—continued


Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people (a) started claiming the state retirement pension, (b) were refused full state pension entitlement because they claimed the pension outside the time limit, (c) appealed against the decision to refuse them full state pension because they had claimed the pension outside the time limits and (d) were successful in their appeals in each year since 1997. [1679]

Mr. Timms: The number of claimants wishing to claim state pension from a date earlier than the statutory period of three months is not routinely collected. Information on the number of people appealing against the disallowance of a late claim is not available. The scope for a successful appeal is limited, given that the prescribed time for claiming is absolute. Under current legislation the time limit cannot be extended on the grounds of, for instance, good cause.

The Government have however introduced legislation which is extending the prescribed time for claiming state pension from three months to 12 months. The change is being introduced gradually over the course of this financial year so that, by April 2006, pensioners will be able to have their state pension entitlement—other than any

increase for an adult dependant—backdated for a full 12 months if they so wish.

A person who delays claiming their state pension, deliberately or otherwise, is treated as having deferred their entitlement. As a result, they could be eligible for a higher weekly pension when they do finally claim. Alternatively, if they delay their entitlement for at least 12 months from April 2005 they will have the option of a one-off taxable lump sum payment, based on deferred pension plus interest, instead of a pension


Janet Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will bring forward further measures to restore pensions lost through scheme wind-ups. [1776]

Mr. Timms: The Government have introduced a number of measures that directly address the reduction in pension that individuals can face when their scheme winds-up with insufficient funds. The Government have:
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It is also important to take action before schemes reach this point. The Government have established the Pensions Regulator (the Regulator) which replaced the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra) on 6 April 2005. The Regulator will take a proactive and risk-based approach to regulation and, in addition to the powers inherited from Opra, will have a range of new and increased powers to protect members of work-based pension schemes. The Regulator will concentrate its resources where there is the greatest risk to the security of members' benefits.

The Government fully understands, and shares the concerns of those people whose pensions are affected when their scheme is wound up. The measures we have introduced ensure that trustees and employers have clear obligations and incentives to protect members' benefits. The Government will continue to review the situation.

Pensioners Living Abroad

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will set up a review of the policy of paying state pensions to UK citizens living abroad in some countries and not to others; and if he will make a statement. [2096]

Mr. Timms: We have no plans to do so.

Pensioner Poverty

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners were living in (a) absolute and (b) relative poverty in each year since 1979–80; and if he will make a statement. [973]

Mr. Timms: The sixth annual 'Opportunity for all' report (Cm 6239) sets out the Government's strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion and reports progress against a range of measures.

There is no fully consistent time series using a single data source for the number of pensioners below absolute low income thresholds since 1979.
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The following table gives the number of pensioners living in relative low income since 1979 and the number in absolute low income against the standard 1996–97 baseline from 1996–97 onwards. Absolute low income is
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defined as below 60 per cent. of 1996–97 median income held constant in real terms and relative low income is defined as below 60 per cent. of contemporary median income.
Income below 60 per cent. of 1996–97
median income held constant in real terms
Income below 60 per cent. of
contemporary median income
Housing costs
Housing costs
Family Expenditure Survey (UK )(22)
Family Resources Survey (GB)1

(22) Source
1. Table shows number of pensioners in millions.
2. The reference period for FRS figures is single financial years.
3. FES figures are single calendar years from 1979–87, two combined calendar years from 1988–89 to 1990–91 are two financial years combined from 1991–92 to 1995–96.
Households Below Average Income 2003–04

Further information showing the proportion and number of pensioners living in low income households, including annual levels, can be found in the publication "Households Below Average Income 1994–95 to 2003–04", a copy of which can be found in the House of Commons Library. This also reports statistics between 1979 and 1995–96, using the data source and income definitions previously employed for the 'Households Below Average Income' series.


Child Care

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans the Government have to involve private and voluntary sector day nurseries in (a) children's centres and (b) extended schools. [1811]

Beverley Hughes: The Government greatly values the contribution made by the thousands of private and voluntary nurseries, playgroups and pre-schools to early education and child care. We are determined that these sectors should continue to play a full part in the provision of early years education and child care as these services are expanded. The day nursery sector now cares for more children aged under five than any other type of child care with the vast majority of day nurseries in the private sector (85 per cent.). 24 per cent. of all day nurseries are in the 20 per cent. most disadvantaged areas and over 60 per cent. of all neighbourhood nurseries were successfully delivered by the private sector.

Responsibility for the strategic planning of location of children's centres lies with local authorities. Stakeholders including private and voluntary day nurseries are key to the development of current and future children's centres. Providers are regularly invited to work with local authorities in the process of identifying current needs as well as developing plans for existing and future involvement. Local authorities are expected to take advantage of the expertise that many private and voluntary sector providers offer.

Following the Children Act 2004, local authorities are working with key partners as part of children's trust arrangements to plan and commission services strategically. They are encouraged to work with private and other providers to assess current levels of child care availability as well as likely future requirements of the community. Many schools are expected to develop the core offer of extended services by working in partnership with existing local private or voluntary sector providers.

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