Previous Section Index Home Page

26 Nov 2008 : Column 2017W—continued

Pensioners: Government Assistance

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he plans to take to protect pensioners from the effects of rising living costs. [236765]

Ms Rosie Winterton: There is a statutory requirement to review all social security benefits each year and to increase certain benefits from April each year.

The increases are calculated for most benefits using the annual inflation figure for the preceding September. This ensures that benefits keep their real value in broad terms, and any fluctuations throughout the year feed into this rate.

In the 2008 pre-Budget Report the Chancellor announced that from April 2009 the full basic state pension will rise to £95.25 and the Pension Credit standard minimum guarantee will rise to £130 a week for single pensioners, £198.45 for couples, which represents the largest increase since its introduction.

The Chancellor also announced that every pensioner will get a one-off payment of £60, on top of the £10 Christmas bonus, from January 2009. This is in addition to earlier announcements about extra help available for pensioners.

26 Nov 2008 : Column 2018W

In the Budget 2008 speech the Chancellor announced that for winter 2008-09 an additional payment will be made alongside the Winter Fuel Payment. Households with a member aged 60 to 79 will receive an additional £50 and households with a member aged 80 or over will receive an additional £100. This makes the Winter Fuel Payment £250 and £400 respectively for winter 2008-09 which provides a significant contribution towards an older person's winter fuel bill.

On 11 September 2008 the Government announced a new £1 billion package of measures to help people cut their energy bills. Measures on offer deliver significant energy savings including increased help with cavity wall and loft insulation. 11 million lower income and pensioner households are eligible for these free of charge. And for winter 2008-09 Cold Weather Payments will increase in value from £8.50 to £25.00. Cold Weather Payments are made to vulnerable people in receipt of qualifying benefits, including Pension Credit, if there is a period of very cold weather in their area.

Addressing pensioner poverty has been one of the Government's key priorities since 1997. The number of pensioners on relative low income in the UK has fallen from 2.9 million in 1998-9 to 2.1 million in 2006-07 (measured as below the threshold of 60 per cent of. contemporary median household income after housing costs).

Pensioners are less likely to be in poverty than the population as a whole, after housing costs are accounted for.

Pension Credit, a key element of the strategy to tackle pensioner poverty, ensures no pensioner need live on less than £124.05 a week for single people and £189.35 a week for couples. It makes a difference to the income of millions of older people. Since Pension Credit was introduced in 2003 the number of pensioners on relative low incomes has fallen by around 500,000 (measured as below the threshold of 60 per cent. of contemporary median household income after housing costs).

Non-cash benefits in kind make a real difference to the lives of millions of UK pensioners. These include free NHS prescriptions and eye tests for those over 60 and free TV licences for those over 75. People aged over 60 and disabled people living in England are entitled to free England-wide off-peak bus travel, and similar schemes are available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. British Citizens born before 2 September 1929 can apply for a free ten-year UK passport and from April 2009 local authorities will be able to offer free swimming to the over 60s, in a scheme jointly funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Department of Health and Department for Work and Pensions.

Pensioners: Hertfordshire

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much has been spent by his Department on pensioners per capita in (a) Hemel Hempstead and (b) Hertfordshire in each year since 1997. [238106]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The requested information for Hemel Hempstead and Hertfordshire is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Information for Great Britain is in the table.

26 Nov 2008 : Column 2019W
Great Britain expenditure on pensioners, per capita

2008-09 prices (£)























1. Expenditure on pensioners per capita has been assembled from pensioner expenditure on the basic state pension, state second pension, pension credit, winter fuel payments, attendance allowance, disability living allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit.
2. Expenditure includes that going to people resident overseas.
3. Expenditure for pension credit, housing benefit, council tax benefit and winter fuel payments includes that going to men aged 60 to 64.
4. To calculate per capita expenditure, the assembled expenditure was divided by pensioner populations, namely men and women over state pension age.
5. All figures are for Great Britain.
6. The DWP expenditure tables can be found on the DWP website at the following address:
The information has been calculated using DWP accounting data and the 2006-based population projections published by the Office for National Statistics.

Pensioners: Poverty

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many pensioners in Crosby constituency are in receipt of winter fuel allowance; and how much his Department has paid to such pensioners in winter fuel allowance in 2008 to date; [236606]

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of households in Crosby constituency which will receive the (a) £250 and (b) £400 winter fuel payment in 2008-09. [236688]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The exercise to make winter fuel payment for 2008-09 is currently underway and data is not yet available. Figures for winter 2007-08 are not yet available.

In winter 2006-07 we made:

We expect similar numbers to receive the £250 and £400 respectively in 2008-09.

Please note that a small number of these households receive amounts higher than the usual rate for their age group, where the household includes more than two individuals each entitled to payments at half of the usual household rate.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average income of the poorest 33 per cent. of pensioners is in 2008; and what it was in 1997. [236607]

26 Nov 2008 : Column 2020W

Ms Rosie Winterton: Specific information regarding low income for the United Kingdom is available in “Households Below Average Income 1994-95 to 2006-07”. This annual report, which is a National Statistics publication, includes the numbers and proportions of pensioners with incomes below 50 per cent. 60 per cent. and 70 per cent. of median income and by quintile of the income distribution.

Information on the median equivalised income of the 33 per cent. of pensioners with the lowest household incomes in the periods 1996-97 to 1998-99 and 2004-05 to 2006-07 is shown in the following table. Median equivalised incomes are given rather than mean equivalised incomes, as these are less influenced by extreme values. The Households Below Average Income publication also uses median rather than mean equivalised incomes. These statistics are based on a three year average to help take account of small sample sizes in certain parts of the income distribution and statistical variation across the years.

These figures are based on sampling and estimates. Movements in data over short periods may be due to sampling error but over a longer period trends are useful. Particular caution is required when looking at the very lowest incomes on the Family Resources Survey as those households stating the lowest incomes to the FRS may not actually have the lowest living standards. Many people who report very low incomes appear to have high spending.

Median equivalised income of the 33 per cent. of pensioners with the lowest incomes increased by 41 per cent. in real terms between 1996-97 to 1998-99 and 2004-05 to 2006-07. Measures introduced by the Government since 1997 to help those on the lowest incomes include the introduction of the Minimum Income Guarantee and its successor Pension Credit and Winter Fuel Payments for those aged 60 and over. For 2009, we will raise the standard minimum guarantee to £130—an above indexation increase of £5.95. We will be making an additional payment for winter 2008-09 of £50 for households with someone aged 60-79 and £100 for those with someone aged 80 or over. And in addition to this the Government will make a payment in the new year of £60 for each pensioner, equivalent to bringing forward uprating of the basic State Pension from April to January.

Median equivalised weekly pensioner incomes for the 33 per cent. of pensioners with the lowest incomes, 1996-97 to 1998-99 and 2004-05 to 2006-07 (2006-07 prices, £, after housing costs)
Period Median income (£)

1996-97 to 1998-99 (Great Britain)


2004-05 to 2006-07 (United Kingdom)


1. The information shown is for the United Kingdom for 2004-05 to 2006-07, and Great Britain for 1996-97 to 19998-99.
2. The income measures used to derive the estimates shown employ the same methodology as the Department for Work and Pensions publication ‘Households Below Average Income’ (HBAI) series, which uses disposable household income, adjusted (or “equivalised”) for household size and composition, as an income measure as a proxy for standard of living.
3. The income distribution is based on pensioners only.
4. Based on survey data and as such subject to a degree of sampling and non sampling error.
5. The quintiles and deciles are derived using OECD equivalisation factors.
6. Weekly income amounts have been rounded to the nearest whole pound and are given in 2006-07 prices.

26 Nov 2008 : Column 2021W

Pensioners: Social Security Benefits

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what percentage of pensioners over the age of (a) 60, (b) 65 and (c) 70 years were subject to means testing in each year since 1997. [231968]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information that is available is in the following tables.

Some households may be in receipt of more than one of the benefits in the tables so it is not correct to add the recipients on the different benefits together to get an overall total of the number of people in receipt of a means tested benefit.

26 Nov 2008 : Column 2022W
Pension credit household recipients

Claimant aged 60 or over Claimant aged 65 or over Claimant aged 70 or over

November 2003




May 2004




May 2005




May 2006




May 2007




May 2008




Income support household recipients

Claimant aged 60 or over Claimant aged 65 or over Claimant aged 70 or over

August 1999




May 2000




May 2001




May 2002




May 2003




May 2004




May 2005




May 2006


May 2007


May 2008


1. Caseloads are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Household recipients are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves only or on behalf of a household.
3. Individual beneficiaries includes both claimants and their partners.
DWP Information Directorate Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent. data

Next Section Index Home Page