HC Deb 10 March 1998 vol 308 cc173-5W
Mrs. Lait

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many(a) current and (b) future pensioners own personal pension plans. [28476]

Mr. Denham

The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available using data drawn from the 1995 General Household Survey and Office of National Statistics population estimates is that in 1995 around 8.8 million individuals of working age had owned a personal pension plan.

Mr. Keith Bradley

Where there are two or more parents with care in respect of the same absent parent, applications for maintenance are normally dealt with in the order they are received. The non-resident parent's liability to pay maintenance for his children is then shared out between the parents with care based on their respective maintenance requirements.

Child support regulations that came into effect on 5 August 1996 cater for maintenance applications being processed other than in the normal order. However applications from more than one parent with care for maintenance from the same non-resident parent which were received before 5 August 1996 are not covered by these regulations. Procedures have now been developed for handling such applications.

Mr. Kirkwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many child support appeal tribunal hearings have been held in each quarter to date; in what percentage of cases the CSO's decision was upheld; how many cases are awaiting a hearing; and what is the average time from the letter of appeal being received to a tribunal decision being made. [30056]

Mr. Keith Bradley

[holding answer 18 February 1998]: The operation of the appeals system is a matter for the Independent Tribunal Service (ITS). The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

The Lifetime Labour Market Database (based on 1 per cent. Sample of National Insurance records) estimates that, at the end of the financial year 1995–96, 5,499,0001 individuals of working age owned appropriate personal pension plans.

Note: 1This figure has been rounded to the nearest 1,000.
Mr. Webb

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what would be the effect in(a) gross pensions expenditure, (b) income-related benefits expenditure and (c) income tax revenues, of relaxing contribution rules so that all adults over state pension age were to be immediately entitled to a full basic state pension in their own right. [31033]

.Mr. Denham

The information is set out in the table.

£ billion
GB 1998–99 Costs(+) / Savings(-)
Additional RP cost 6.2
Offsets for other benefits paid to those over state pension age -0.8
Income-related benefit offset -1.2
Income tax offset -0.3
Total net cost 3.9


  1. 1. The costs/savings are in 1998–99 prices and are rounded to the nearest £0.1 billion.
  2. 2. Estimates of the gross cost are provided by the Government Actuary's Department.
  3. 3. The estimate of the change in income tax revenue, provided by the Inland Revenue, uses a projection of the 1995–96 Family Expenditure Survey.
  4. 4. Means-tested benefit offsets were calculated using the 1995–96 Family Resources Survey and the May 1996 Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry, both uprated to 1997–98 prices, benefits and earnings levels, and calibrated to the forecasts underlying the 1997 Departmental Report.

Mr. Duncan Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will make it her policy to phase out SERPs by closing it off to new entrants. [32974]

Mr. Denham

The Government are committed to retaining SERPS as an option for those who wish to remain in it. All representations on the future of SERPS are being considered as part of the Pensions Review.

Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations she has received regarding the advantages of pension contributions being made on a voluntary basis. [32876]

Mr. Denham

Contributions to the State pension scheme including the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme or a contracted out second pension are compulsory for most people in employment. As part of the public consultation exercise of the Pensions Review, we received a number of representations proposing that contributions to private second pensions, that is, over and above the contracted out element, should remain voluntary and not compulsory. We are currently considering all of the representations we have received.

The Government's starting point is the need to secure better value from the contributions which people make to pensions and to make the best use of the money already in the system, whether this comes directly from individuals and employers, or indirectly from them through the NI system.