HC Deb 05 July 1999 vol 334 cc623-4
4. Mr. Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe and Sale, East)

What progress he is making with the introduction of a second pension for carers. [88026]

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Mr. Stephen Timms)

There has been a wide welcome for our manifesto pledge, now confirmed in the pensions Green Paper, to allow carers to build up a second pension. We are working on the details at present. We expect 2 million carers to qualify for credits each year. We are aiming for legislation in the next Session and for credits to commence in 2002, when the state second pension is due to be introduced.

Mr. Goggins

I agree with my hon. Friend that the announcement of a carers pension is popular. May I press him on the situation of carers who should qualify for a second pension because they have been awarded invalid care allowance? The Green Paper states that qualification is automatic for carers who are in receipt of invalid care allowance, but in practice some carers who are awarded invalid care allowance do not actually receive it because they are in receipt of other contributory benefits, such as widows benefit or incapacity benefit. Will my hon. Friend confirm that the award—and not necessarily the receipt—of invalid care allowance will lead to entitlement?

Mr. Timms

My hon. Friend raises an important point, and the answer is yes. Credits will, as he says, go to recipients of invalid care allowance and to those receiving child benefit in respect of children under five, and credits will also go to people in the circumstances that he described—people providing care for people receiving attendance allowance and the middle and higher rates of disability living allowance, but who do not actually receive invalid care allowance, in many cases for the reasons that my hon. Friend outlined. It is an important step forward for carers and recognises the immense contribution that they make.

Mr. Steve Webb (Northavon)

In the reform of pensions for carers and others, does the Minister believe that simplicity is a virtue?

Mr. Timms

Indeed I do. That is why the state second pension is being reformed, to ensure that on retirement, everyone who has worked and contributed throughout his or her life will be delivered an income above the means-tested threshold. That is a simple goal which has been widely welcomed and which the entire House will recognise as the right way forward.