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Table 2 shows the additional cost under the proposed pension credit reforms, compared to the baseline assumption that the guarantee credit is earnings uprated until 2008 (the Governments previously announced intention), and price uprated thereafter.
The White Paper package means that everyone should have the opportunity to save on the basis of a firm foundation from the state, with confidence that they will see the benefits from their private saving. Earnings-linking the basic state pension, and arresting the spread of the savings credit up the income distribution by uprating the maximum with earnings from 2008 and with prices from 2015, are important elements in that package. The second column shows the extra costs which would be incident if these reforms to the savings credit were excluded.
|Table 2: Cost of pension credit reforms|
|£ billion, in 2006-07 price terms|
|Total cost of pension credit reforms||Further costs if savings credit reforms excluded|
1. Estimates of additional expenditure are consistent with the policy detail set out in the White Paper. Costs are net of all income-related benefits (pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit).
2. Costs or savings presented are based on long-term projections of United Kingdom benefit spend, consistent with the Budget report 2006.
3. Table 1, Cost of state second pension reforms, includes, in the first column, accelerating the flat-rate of accruals, improving coverage, and the abolition of contracting-out for defined contribution pension schemes. Contracting out rebate effects are excluded. Cost of state second pension are net of all income-related benefits (pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit).
4. The second column of table 1 includes the additional costs which would be incident if the accelerated flat-rating of accruals were excluded.
5. Table 2, Cost of pension credit reforms includes, in the first column, uprating the guarantee credit by earnings from 2008, and uprating the savings credit maximum by earnings from 2008 and then by prices from 2015. It excludes changes to pension credit as a consequence of earnings uprating the basic state pension.
6. The second column in table 2, headed Further costs if savings credit reforms excluded, includes costs which would be incident in the absence of the direct reforms to savings credit.
7. Figures exclude the effect of personal accounts.
8. Figures exclude the effects on expenditure on the state second pension and on pension credit arising from increases in the state pension age as set out in the White Paper.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library the data which supports the figures given in figure 9 of the White Paper Security in retirement, towards a new pensions system for each year between 2020 and 2050. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consultations his Department has undertaken with Postwatch East of England on pilot schemes for the migration of Post Office card account holders to banking facilities in the eastern region; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: DWP officials have met Postwatch a number of times in the past to discuss the direct payment of benefits and pensions. Government funding for the Post Office card account will continue until March 2010 as always planned. This was provided for in the Post Office card account contract agreed by DWP and Post Office Limited in March 2002. An abridged version of the contract has been placed in the Library. The details of the contract were not discussed with Postwatch.
My officials met with officials from the national Postwatch organisation on 27 January 2006 and had a constructive discussion about our future strategy for paying benefits and pensions, including our small-scale pilots. A summary report of the pilot findings has now been placed in the Library. My officials have been in regular contact with Postwatch since that meeting, including attending meetings at Postwatchs Counters Advisory Group.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consultations took place with (a) Royal Mail, (b) Postwatch and (c) the National
Federation of Sub-Postmasters before the Government announced that the post office card account contract would not be renewed after 2010. 
We have been discussing our wider payments strategy with Post Office Ltd. since the summer of 2005. Our aim is to help them retain as much business as possible. The first meeting was instigated by David Mills, the former Chief Executive of Post Office Ltd. The meetings have covered a number of issues, including the DWP pilots which ran from mid-February to mid-March. We continue to have regular meetings with Post Office Ltd. at official level and, where appropriate, Ministers will also meet them. It is important that the Government and Post Office Ltd. work constructively together in the best interests of our joint customers.
DWP officials have met with Postwatch and the National Federation of Sub-postmasters a number of times in the past to discuss the direct payment of benefits and pensions and will continue to meet them in the future. We did not undertake any specific consultation with either about the post office card account contract. The Government will fulfil their contractual obligations and continue to provide funding for the post office card account until March 2010 as always planned.
Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Pensions Service is entitled to withdraw payment of (a) pensions and (b) pension credits by means of the post office card account without the consent of the card account holder. 
It is an important principle of social security legislation that the Secretary of State does not require the consent of the person entitled to any benefit to change the way in which that benefit is paid. This helps DWP to deal efficiently with a wide range of circumstances that may arise.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the number and proportion of (a) women pensioners and (b) disabled people living on (a) less than 60 per cent. of contemporary median income and (b) less than 60 per cent. of contemporary mean income in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Jim Murphy:
These data are from Households Below Average Income (HBAI). The main source for HBAI is the Family Resources Survey (FRS). The
estimates are shown Before and After Housing Costs for the years 1996-97 to 2004-05.
The following tables show the numbers and proportions of women pensioners and disabled people, living in households with incomes below the 60 per cent. threshold of (a) the contemporary median and (b) the contemporary mean.
As requested, both median and mean estimates have been supplied for this PQ. The threshold of 60 per cent. of median household income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income. This is an internationally recognised measure and has been used for many years. The presence of relatively small numbers of individuals with very high incomes results in a skewed distribution and a large difference between the overall GB mean and the GB median.
|Table 1: Women pensioners living in households with less than 60 per cent. Contemporary median incomeGreat Britain|
|Number BHC (Million)||Proportion BHC (Percentage)||Number AHC (Million)||Proportion AHC (Percentage)|
BHC=Before Housing Costs
AHC=After Housing Costs
Family Resources Survey
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