Old-Age Non-Pensioners

Oral Answers to Questions — Pensions and National Insurance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd November 1965.

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Photo of Mr Terence Higgins Mr Terence Higgins , Worthing 12:00 am, 22nd November 1965

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if she will seek to issue a document to old-age non-pensioners which will enable them, as of right, to obtain concessions granted to old-age pensioners.

Photo of Mr Norman Pentland Mr Norman Pentland , Chester-le-Street

I do not think that this matter generally causes difficulty, but I am writing to the hon. Member about it.

Photo of Mr Terence Higgins Mr Terence Higgins , Worthing

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that it is an absurd situation where one can have a pensioner with an income of £3,000 to £4,000 a year who is able to obtain these concessions, while an old-age non-pensioner with a very small income is unable to obtain them? Can the hon. Gentleman tell us what is the position with regard to old-age non-pensioners on National Assistance? Do they get these concessions, or not?

Photo of Mr Norman Pentland Mr Norman Pentland , Chester-le-Street

Yes, but this question is so involved and so wide that it would be impossible to deal satisfactorily with it by Question and Answer, and that is why I am writing to the hon. Gentleman. If he takes note of my information and he is not satisfied with it, then possibly he can come back with another Question.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what is her estimate of the annual cost of granting retirement pensions at the present standard rate to all elderly persons in the category of non-pensioners; and what would be the approximate consequential saving on National Assistance grants.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

About £95 million a year immediately, including the cost of increasing to the standard rate those pensions currently being paid at less than that rate; and about £45 million.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

In view of the fact that these people are comparatively few in number and that death is reducing their number, unfortunately very rapidly, would it not be a splendid thing—and something of which the Minister could be proud—to devise some means of bringing help to at least some of them?

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

It is true that the number of non-pensioners decreases every year because they are old people, but the number of those with a deficiency in their pensions is added to each year. It is because we have been unable, so far, to bring in the income guarantee that I, with the National Assistance Board, have been doing everything possible to let all these people know that they can have aid through the National Assistance Board as of right.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many elderly persons in Wales were in the category of non-pensioners at the latest convenient date; and how many elderly Welsh people were in that category five years ago.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

I regret that this information is not available.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

Can the Minister really say that it is desirable that this information should not be available? Is it not a fact that it is essential that if we are to appraise this sort of problem intelligently we should have the numbers for Wales, England and Scotland?

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

It seems to me that if, as the previous Question indicated, the hon. Member feels that these old people are suffering—and it is true that some of them may be—it does not matter whether they are living in Scotland, England or Wales.