§ Mr. Nicholas Baker
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will consider reducing the gap between the announcement of future increases in the retirement pension and the date upon which the increase takes place.
§ Mrs. Chalker
My right hon. Friend has no proposals to alter the existing pattern whereby each year's increase in pensions and other benefits is announced at the time of my right hon. and learned Friend's Budget Statement and the increases paid from November. This is an appropriate time, just before the increase of winter with its higher bills. The new rates of benefit are announced at the time of the Budget Statement, not only to allow sufficient time to carry out the uprating of benefits for millions of people, but also because the cost of an uprating is a large item in total public expenditure and needs to be taken into account in my right hon. and learned Friend's Budget proposals.639W
The interval between the announcement and the payment of the increases does not mean that their value is eroded before they are paid. The new rates of benefit take full account of the expected rate of inflation over the 12 months since the previous uprating.