§ Mr. Bradford
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are his reasons for deferring the increase in retirement pensions from 17 November until 29 November 1980; and what is the amount which he hopes to save by this course of action.
§ Mr. Prentice
Retirement pensions and other benefits were increased this year from the appropriate pay day in week beginning 24 November. The pay days for the majority of retirement pensioners are Mondays or Thursdays. All retirement pensions were increased from a date earlier than 29 November. This year's uprating date was in accordance with the provisions of the Social Security Act 1980, which provides, in effect, for the uprating to take place before the end of November. This was to correct an unintentional effect of the provisions of the Social Security Act 1975, under which the date for increasing benefits had been creeping forward. But for the provisions of the 1980 Act, the date of this year's increase would have crept forward a whole week from week beginning 17 November, the date in 1975, to week beginning 10 November. In the present difficult economic situation, the Government considered it necessary to defer this year's uprating a further week until week beginning 24 November.
If the new rates of all benefits introduced from week beginning 24 November had been paid two weeks earlier, from week beginning 10 November, the additional expenditure would have been about £125 million in a full year, of which retirement pensions would have accounted for about £65 million. Had the rates been introduced one week earlier, from week beginning 17 November, the additional expenditure would have been half as much.