HC Deb 25 July 1986 vol 102 cc697-9W
Mr. Austin Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the total number of men and women, respectively, of retirement age; how many are in receipt of the state pension; how many in each case are on social security and how many of these are on the state pension; how many have no pension; how many would cease to qualify for supplementary benefit if the state pension were to be increased by (i) 10 per cent, and (ii) 20 per cent.; and what would be the additional cost of such increases together with the saving in benefits and the increase in yield of taxation.

Mr. Major

Information is not readily available on all the items requested, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The information which is available is as follows:—

(i) number of persons over minimum pension age
Number ('000)
Men 3,293
Women 6,691
Total 9,984

Source: OPCS, mid 1985 data.

(ii) persons in receipt of retirement pension (March 1985)
Number ('000)
Men 3,113
Women 6,009
Total 9,122

This figure excludes people receiving graduated pension only.

(iii) persons over minimum pension age receiving no retirement pension (except graduated pension). About 860,000 people were in this category in 1985. Of these about 126,000 had opted to receive other benefits, such as invalidity benefit and widow's pension, which can be received in the first five years after minimum pension age and a further 189,000 were receiving graduated pension only. The remaining 545,000 will include, women over 60 who have no entitlement to retirement pension on their own contributions and whose husbands have not yet reached age 65 or retired; both men and women who have chosen to defer retirement; and an unknown, but small, number who have no entitlement to state retirement pension in any form.

Source: DHSS

(iv) the numbers of persons over minimum pension age in receipt of supplementary pension were as follows:

Male '000 Female '000
Numbers receiving both supplementary benefit and retirement pension or widows' pension 415 1,116
Numbers receiving supplementary benefit only 25 80
Total receiving some supplementary benefit 440 1,240

Source: DHSS, Annual Statistical Enquiry 1984 (latest figures available)

(v) no reliable estimate is readily available of the numbers of pensioners who would be floated off supplementary benefit if basic retirement pension levels were increased by 10 per cent. and 20 per cent. but the level of supplementary pension and housing benefit needs allowances were not increased.

(vi) the gross cost of such increases would be in a full year:

  1. (a) 10 per cent. increase—£1,750 million.
  2. (b) 20 per cent. increase—£3,500 million.

The savings on supplementary benefit and housing benefit are (a) £550 million and (b) £950 million.