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BeeHive  >  BeeLines  >  2008  >  May  >  Questions in the House

Questions in the House

I’m finding that my regular trawls through the Hansard transcripts of the daily goings-on in Parliament are yielding more and more pensions-related items every day.  I get the distinct impression that pension issues of every shape and size are coming to the fore more and more at the moment as the nation’s required post-crunch belt-tightening takes more of a hold on our national consciousness.  Are pensioners losing out as this is happening?  Is the way we calculate the real increases in the cost of living for different groups within society fair?  What kind of weekly income do most of our older people in this society have to get by on anyway?  Are people really being lifted out of poverty if the credits they can claim remain unclaimed?  Is some pensioner poverty needless?  And what about the national scheme of Personal Accounts?  Will it really deliver cheap pensions to millions? 

While reading through some of this stuff it occurred to me that some of the exchanges wouldn’t have survived the ‘repetition’ challenge on Radio Four’s Just a Minute programme, and would probably get a hit on the ‘deviation’ rule too, but it’s all fascinating reading just the same. Fascinating reading to me anyway (to you maybe too for all I know).

Steve Bee

27 May 2008

Here it is, just as I read it; no comments from me or anything like that; just the words:

Pensioners: Cost of Living

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the cost of living for pensioner households in each year since 1997. [203275]


21 May 2008 : Column 337W

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Price indices for pensioner households are published in Tables 7.4 and 7.5 of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Focus on Consumer Price Indices. This information is available in the Library.

ONS produce separate indices for one and two pensioner households where at least three quarters of the household’s income is from state benefits. These households are excluded from the Retail Prices Index (RPI).

The ONS exclude housing costs from the pensioner indices on the grounds that this would overstate inflation, as pensioners either tend to have lower housing costs, or would mostly be cushioned against some rises in housing costs by increases in housing-related benefits.

Pensioners: Income

David Mundell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of pensioners had a net annual income of (a) up to £5,200, (b) £5,200 to £10,400, (c) £10,400 to £20,800, (d) £20, 800 to £40,000, (e) £40,000 to £80,000 and (f) over £80,000 in (i) Scotland and (ii) the UK in the latest year for which figures are available. [200838]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Due to pension credit no pensioner need live on less than £124.05 per week (£6,451 per year) in 2008-09, compared to £67.05 per week in 1996-97 (£3,487 per year).

The pension credit take-up target for 2008-09 is to deliver an annualised value of new successful pension credit applications of £767 million and to secure at least 250,000 successful new pension credit applications, an increase of 15,000 on this year’s target.

We want as many people as possible to take up the benefits they are entitled to, which is why we have simplified the application process and focussed on encouraging people to apply.

The following table shows the percentage of pensioners with net income in each income band:

Percentage of pensioner units with net income in each band

Scotland

UK

Up to £5,200

4

6

£5,200 to £10,400

39

34

£10,400 to £20,800

44

43

£20,800 to £40,000

12

14

Over £40,000

2

3

Notes:
1. Net income before housing costs is gross income less income tax payments, national insurance contributions, contributions to occupational and private pension schemes, local taxes, maintenance and child support payments, and parental contributions to children living away from home.
2. Based on survey data and as such subject to a degree of sampling and non sampling error.
3. All figures are rounded to the nearest 1 per cent. Figures may not sum to 100 per cent. due to rounding.
4. Due to the small sample sizes involved in estimates below a national level, three year’s data have been combined and the income band has been deflated to the appropriate year’s prices.
5. A pensioner unit is either a single person over pension age or a couple in which at least one person is over pension age.
6. Figures for Scotland are estimated by combining three year’s data from 2003-04 to 2005-06. Figures for the UK are based on 2005-06 data. Reliable estimates of the percentage of pensioners receiving between £40,000 and £80,000 per year and over £80,000 per year are not possible with the data source, so the two groups have been combined.
Source:
Family Resources Survey


21 May 2008 : Column 338W

Pensioners: Standard of Living

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the pensioner prices index was in each year from 1978-79 to 2008-09. [200649]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Price indices for pensioner households are published in Tables 7.4 and 7.5 of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Focus on Consumer Price Indices. This information is available in the Library.

ONS produce separate indices for one and two pensioner households where at least three quarters of the household’s income is from state benefits. These households are excluded from the Retail Prices Index (RPI).

The ONS exclude housing costs from the pensioner indices on the grounds that this would overstate inflation, as pensioners either tend to have lower housing costs, or would mostly be cushioned against some rises in housing costs by increases in housing-related benefits.

21 May 2008 : Column 338W—continued

Personal Accounts

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has had from the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority on the level of charges on personal accounts. [205496]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The personal accounts scheme will deliver low charges for members and fulfil the Government's intention that the scheme should be self-financing over the long-term. My Department is working closely with the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority to develop a funding strategy for the personal accounts scheme, including the level and structure of charges that will be levied on members. A final charge level will only be known once the funding strategy is finalised and the Delivery Authority has undertaken the commercial procurement process, which will establish the detailed costs of delivering the scheme. They can only do this once the Authority's powers have been extended through the current Pensions Bill.

Source: House of Commons Hansard, Written Answers for 21 May 2008.

Any research and analysis has been provided by us for our own purposes and the results of it are being made available only incidentally.

Parliamentary material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO on behalf of Parliament.