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Pensioners

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 11th March 2009.

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Photo of Rosie Cooper Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of increases in living costs on pensioners; and what steps his Department is taking to assist pensioners affected by such increases.

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (Yorkshire and the Humber), Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Pensions Reform) and Minister (Yorkshire and the Humber)

There is a statutory requirement to review all social security benefits each year and to consider whether they have retained their value in relation to the general level of prices. (The standard minimum guarantee in pension credit must be reviewed against the general level of earnings). A further requirement calls for certain benefits, including the state pension, to be up-rated at least in line with the increase in prices from April of the following year.

Following the most recent review, that took place in the autumn of last year, the rate of full basic state pension that will apply from this April will be £95.25. This amounts to an increase in the current rate of £4.55, which is in line with inflation as measured last September, when the Retail Prices Index was 5 per cent. This increase, against a backdrop of falling inflation, is in line with the highest increase in inflation last year and the biggest increase in the state pension since 2001. The increase in the standard minimum guarantee in pension credit to £130 for single pensioners (£198.45 for pensioner couples) from April more than keeps pace with earnings and represents the highest up-lift since it was introduced in 2003.

Furthermore, in order to provide direct financial support through the economic downturn pensioners have also received additional winter fuel payments this year that have increased the payments to £250 for eligible households with someone aged 60 to 79 and £400 for eligible households with someone aged over 80. In addition, for this year the Department has increased the Christmas bonus from £10 to £70 and increased the cold weather payment from £8.50 to £25.

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