Previous Section Index Home Page

18 Apr 2006 : Column 432W—continued

Pensioners (Cost of Living)

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions by how much the cost of living changed for pensioners in each year since 1997. [64423]

Mr. Timms: The following table shows the annual increase in the retail prices index (RPI) in each calendar year.
18 Apr 2006 : Column 433W

RPI (percentage)

Office for National Statistics

The Office for National Statistics also produces separate price indices for one and two pensioner households, which are published in their publication 'Focus on Consumer Price Indices'. These are based on the expenditure patterns of households where the head of the household is over state pension age (at least 65 for men and 60 for women), economically inactive, and where at least three quarters of the household's income is from state benefits. Housing costs (including council tax) are excluded from these indices as most of these pensioners will be cushioned against some rises by housing benefit and council tax benefits.

Pensioner price indices have risen marginally more slowly than RPI excluding housing (the best comparator) between 1996 and 2005.


Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the comments of David Norgrove, Chair of the Pensions Protection Fund and the Pensions Regulator to the Work and Pensions Committee on 22 March 2006 that pensions is a data free zone; what action he proposes to take to improve the data held which forms the basis for decisions made on pensions; and if he will make a statement. [62039]

Mr. Timms: Mr. Norgrove, Chair of the Pensions Regulator, was highlighting the considerable gaps in information that exist in relation to pension schemes in the UK. He also highlighted the steps that the Pensions Regulator has been taking to fill those gaps.

Prior to the coming into force of the Pensions Act 2004, pension scheme trustees were obliged to provide the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra) with basic information in the form of scheme name and address, scheme size in terms of number of members, benefit type (whether defined benefit, defined contribution, hybrid or not known), status (open, closed, frozen, winding-up, wound-up).

This made it possible for Opra to collect the pension schemes levy and provide a pension tracing service for the public. However, it provided no information on the funding level, the nature of the employer's business, names and contact details for scheme advisers. In terms of the current challenges in relation to scheme funding this data was insufficient.

The situation is already being addressed. The Pensions Act 2004 requires UK occupational pension schemes to complete a scheme return and supply it to the Pensions Regulator. Considerable improvements in the quality of data available on pensions are expected by the
18 Apr 2006 : Column 434W
end of 2006 when the majority of scheme returns will have been received by the Regulator. The new scheme return will include:

While the steps the Regulator is taking to gather information through the scheme return will make a big difference, it has also analysed existing data to inform current policy issues. For example, the Pensions Regulator engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to provide an analysis of the potential impacts on employer solvency and investment of the new scheme funding regime, which included an analysis by PwC of the potential impact on 550 employers. The PwC research has been laid in the libraries of both Houses, and is also available through the Pensions Regulator website,

Ms Gisela Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people the Government estimate are included in the Parliamentary Ombudsman's recommendations on occupational pensions; and what the average pension entitlement is of those in each age group, broken down by those aged (a) over 65, (b) 55 to 65, (c) 45 to 55, (d) 35 to 45 and (e) under 35 years on 14 May 2004; [63862]

(2) what proportion of members of pension schemes covered by recommendations of the Parliamentary Ombudsman report are aged (a) over 60 and (b) 50 to 59 years. [63870]

Mr. Timms: We estimate that around 125,000 people are included in the Ombudsman's recommendations. The sample on which this estimate is based is too small to produce a reliable breakdown of average pension entitlement for each of the age bands requested. However, we estimate that around 20 per cent. of the people concerned are aged 60 and over, and around 35 per cent. are aged 50 to 59.

Post Office Card Account

John Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many recipients of retirement pension in Easington constituency use Post Office card accounts. [62957]

Mr. Plaskitt: Information showing the number of DWP benefit and state pension payment accounts paid by direct payment into a Post Office card account for each parliamentary constituency has been placed in the Library.


Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were living in relative
18 Apr 2006 : Column 435W
poverty in the UK at the latest date for which information is available; how many of these were (a) pensioners, (b) people of working age not in employment, (c) people of working age in part-time employment and (d) people of working age in full-time employment; and if he will make a statement. [63299]

Margaret Hodge: Specific information regarding relative low income for pensioners and for those of working age is available in the latest publication of the 'Households Below Average Income 1994–95 to 2004–05'. The threshold of below 60 per cent. of relative or contemporary median income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income.

Figures for the United Kingdom for 2004–05 showing the numbers of pensioners, people of working age in full-time employment, people of working age in part-time employment, people of working age not in employment, children, and all individuals living in households with incomes below 60 per cent. of the contemporary median, are in the following table.
Numbers (in millions) of pensioners, working age people by employment status, children, and all individuals living in contemporary low-income households in 2004–05, United Kingdom

Before housing costsAfter housing costs
of which:
Full-time employed(194)1.21.7
Part-time employed(195)0.70.9
Not in employment2.93.7
All individuals9.411.7

(192) Pensioners are all females aged 60 years or over, and all males aged 65 years or over.
(193) A person of working-age is—for women—ages 16 to 59, and for men—ages 16 to 64.
(194) Full-time work is when an individual works 31 hours or more a week.
(195) Part-time work is when an individual works fewer than 31 hours a week.
(196) A child is an individual aged under 16 years, or an unmarried 16 to 18-year-old on a course up to and including 'A' level standard, up to and including Scottish 'Highers' or up to and including an equivalent course in Northern Ireland.
Due to rounding the estimates for the sub-groups may not add to the total for all individuals.
Family Resources Survey

18 Apr 2006 : Column 436W

Next Section Index Home Page