HC Deb 03 May 1984 vol 59 cc229-30W
Mr. Foulkes

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, pursuant to the answer of 13 April, Official Report, column 406, to the hon. Member for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler), if he will provide comparative figures in real terms for the level of each benefit and entitlement listed in the answer in November 1978 and November 1983.

Dr. Boyson

Comparisons for each of the items are not feasible. In 1978 no earnings-related additional component to retirement pension was in payment, whilst from 1980 the former use of a tariff income scale was replaced by a capital cut off in assessing the effect of capital on supplementary pension entitlement. Those comparisons which can reasonably be made are as follows:

Rate at November 1978 Equivalent value in prices
Benefit November 1978 Rate Equivalent value at November 1983 prices November 1983 Rate
£ £ £
Basic rate of retirement pension 19.50 32.92 34.05
Christmas bonus 10.00 16.88 10.00
Earnings rule 45.00 75.78 65.00
Supplementary pension*for those over 60):
single householder 15.55 25.41 34.10
married couple 25.25 41.26 54.55
Heating addition:†
lower rate 0.85 1.70 2.05
higher rates 1.70 3.41 5.05
2.55 5.11
The 1978 rate has been uprated by the RPI less housing costs. The 1983 rate is the long-term supplementary benefit rate to which people aged over 60 became entitled after May 1983.
† In 1980 the two higher rates of heating addition were merged in one. The heating and light element of the RPI has been used to obtain the 1978 rate in real terms.

Mr. Foulkes

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list all the measures affecting pensioners taken by Her Majesty's Government since 1979 about which his Department has subsequently received representations to the effect that the measures were contrary to the well-being of pensioners.

Dr. Boyson

Representations, favourable and unfavourable, have of course, been received about all the measures introduced since 1979. It is not possible from the records to separately distinguish the number and nature of such representations in relation to any particular measure. It would be disproportionately expensive to identify and analyse all the issues raised about measures specific to pensioners.

Mr. Gould

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will increase the existing figure of 15p which retirement pensioners, subject to the earnings rule, are allowed to deduct for lunch.

Dr. Boyson

No. The level of deduction has been maintained in line with the Inland Revenue's disregard, for income tax purposes, of the cost of meals taken during the hours of employment.