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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:50 am on 23rd February 2010.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 10:50 am, 23rd February 2010

That is right; women tend to be able to deal with their social networks away from work more effectively, perhaps, than men, particularly older men. I have spent many good times in my job, which I am privileged to have, visiting older men's groups, as well as women's groups, where some of that social exclusion can be tackled. I know that such groups greatly add to the quality of men's lives.

There are 900,000 fewer pensioners living in poverty than there were when we came into Government. I am grateful to Mr. Pelling for having the generosity to point that out. Often these debates, rightly, focus on those areas in which we still need to make progress, but it is important that we also acknowledge the progress made by the policies that the Government have pursued since we came to power. That is not being complacent, but significant work by the Government has taken nearly a million pensioners out of poverty. In 1997, the poorest pensioners received income support and had to live on £69 a week. Ministers were not introducing extra support, such as pension credit, but were advising pensioners to knit hats and woolly jumpers to stay warm.

Pension credit makes a big difference to the lives of the 3.3 million people who receive it each week. There are some not claiming the pension credit that they are entitled to, which is why we are continuing our take-up campaigns. I invite all hon. Members who have participated in the debate to continue to do all that they can to assist us.