[Mr. Roger Gale in the Chair] — Pensioner Poverty

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 23rd February 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs) 9:30 am, 23rd February 2010

The hon. Gentleman, I am sure, takes a great interest in the policies of the Liberal Democrats. He will doubtless be interested to hear what my hon. Friend Steve Webb has to say later in the debate.

It was Liberal Democrat policy at previous elections to have a full citizen's pension at the level of the minimum income guarantee. That is still an aspiration, and we will work towards it, but everybody knows that in these straitened times that may not be immediately achievable. It is important that we should continue to have that aim, but the Government have not yet accepted the principle that a citizen's pension is the way forward. Frankly, that is something that the Minister ought to be able to do today.

The latest report from the Department for Work and Pensions on the take-up of income related benefits shows that 35 per cent. of people aged over 80 do not claim pension credit despite being eligible. Indeed, the Government's latest report shows that the amount of unclaimed pension credit rose by 3 per cent. between 2006-07 and 2007-08. The fact that such enormous sums are not being claimed each year indicates that the system is too convoluted for many people to understand.