State Pension Credit Regulations 2002
Baroness Hollis of Heigham (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions; Labour)
My Lords, I doubt that it knew what would be the specific rate. It would have known that, given the structure of pension credit, any abatement on the first £6,000 would have to be recovered by increasing the rate that applied above £6,000. That was always part of the discussions, and that is what Age Concern signed up to, I understand. Of course, if I have misled the noble Lord in any respect, I shall write to him.
I should add that that is effectively half the rate of the existing minimum guarantee—which in turn follows previous income support rates for capital treatment. So we have got rid of the capital ceiling. As a result, it is reasonable to have a fresh look at how we appraise the notional return on capital. As I said, pensioners did not want each individual item to be assessed; they wanted a notional rate, which is what we have provided.
The noble Earl, Lord Russell, asked about adoption allowances. It may be good news for him that nothing related to children is relevant to pension credit; it is disregarded for those purposes. Any income from adoption allowances would not cut into entitlement to pension credit. He asked what provision is made when readmission to hospital is deemed to be the result of inappropriate discharge. The reasons for admission or discharge are not relevant to social security legislation. If there is a perceived problem in that regard, it is a matter for the Department of Health. Whether discharge was inappropriate would not determine the outcome of pension credit.
The noble Earl also asked about housing costs and respite care. That is dealt with in Schedule II at paragraph 4(9), which allows housing costs of people who are temporarily in care homes to be met, subject to a limit of 52 weeks, which I think covers the examples that he gave. Finally, he asked for a definition of a disabled person at Schedule 2(12)(2)(k). It is simply taken over from definitions under income support. That is an incorporation; there is no change; existing policy will continue.
I hope that that has met the concerns of the noble Earl, Lord Russell. If your Lordships will agree, given the lateness of the hour, I commend the regulations to the House.