§ Mrs. Gillian Shephard
The enhanced pensioner premium is part of the premium structure in income support, housing benefit and community charge benefit. From April 1990, this premium will be fixed at £14.40 a week for a single person and £21.60 for couples. It is awarded automatically when the claimant, or where appropriate, his partner, reaches the age of 75 years, and replaces the pensioner premium which is paid at a lower rate. Where a higher rate premium is in payment, that premium will continue. When it was introduced last October, this improvement provided extra benefit, for those who qualified for it, of up to £2.50 a week for single people and £3.50 a week for couples in time for the winter months. At the same time we increased the higher86W pensioner premium by the same amounts. This premium applied, automatically, to all income-related benefit recipients at the age of 80 years, and to disabled people aged 60 to 79 years. Overall, we estimate that 2.6 million people, including spouses, benefited from these substantial improvements.