§ 29. Mr. Barry Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what measures she has implemented to improve the living standards of pensioners. 
§ Siobhain McDonagh
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will make a statement on the Government's policies towards the poorest pensioners during the last 12 months. 
§ Mr. Denham
I refer my hon. Friends to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Conwy (Mrs. Williams).
§ Mr. Etherington
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps she is taking to ensure that pensioners in Sunderland are in receipt of the benefits to which they are entitled; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Denham
The local office of the Benefits Agency in Sunderland has a number of initiatives in place to assist pensioners in claiming Income Support. These include the issue of form IS1 (an initial claim form for income support) to pensioners on being awarded Retirement Pension, and monthly meetings with Age Concern where appointments are arranged to deal with individual pensioners' inquiries. They also attend a twice yearly forum run by Social Services, who are targeting pensioners.
On a national scale, the Government are committed to examining the means of delivering more automatic help to the poorest pensioners, around one million of whom do not take up their Income Support entitlement. We have commissioned independent research into the barriers to pensioners claiming their entitlement. We have also started pilot projects in nine areas of Great Britain (Glasgow, East Renfrewshire, York, Preston, Stroud, Torbay, South Staffordshire, Torfaen and Lambeth) to test the most effective methods of identifying potential pensioner recipients and of encouraging them to claim.58W
We should have the results of both the research and the pilots early next year when we will consider the best way to proceed nationally.
§ Mr. Denham
The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is set out in the table.
Benefit effects of raising State pension age to 67 in 1998–99 £billion Benefits Cost/saving Retirement pension (RP) savings 5 Income related benefits (IRB) offset to RP savings —1 Other benefit offsets —2
- 1. Estimates assume an immediate change in State pension age in 1998–99 with no transitional protection and Audit Dependancy Increases (ADIs) extended in line with current policy.
- 2. Estimates are rounded to the nearest £ billion (-) represents a cost, (+) represents a saving.
- 3. RP effects include moves onto Widows Benefits (WB) and the extension of ADIs.
- 4. IRB offsets are provided for the RP and WB costs only. Information on the IRB effects of moves onto other benefits is not available.
- 5. "Other benefits" cover Incapacity Benefit, Jobseeker' s Allowance (Contributory), Severe Disablement Allowance and Invalid Care Allowance.
- 6. No behavioural effects have been assumed, apart from moves onto other contributory benefits.
- 7. Contributory benefit effects have been provided by the Government Actuary's Department.