HC Deb 03 April 2000 vol 347 cc334-5W
27. Mr. Blizzard

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to ensure that pensions are increased at least in line with the rise in the cost of living. [115891]

Mr. Rooker

We have said that the basic pension will remain as the foundation of income in retirement, that it will not be means-tested and that we will increase it at least in line with prices. We have increased Retirement Pension in line with the Retail Prices Index for third year running at a cost of £375 million.

29. Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how the Government propose to ensure that pensioners share in rising national prosperity. [115893]

32. Fiona Mactaggart

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he has taken to increase the disposable income of pensioners since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [115897]

Mr. Rooker

The measures flowing from the Green Paper "Partnership in Pensions", together with those announced in the last two Budgets, demonstrate the priority we have given to improving pensioners' incomes.

We have introduced a Minimum Income Guarantee for today's pensioners which is being increased in line with earnings each year during this Parliament. From April 2001, it will be increased to £82 a week for a single pensioner and £90 for a pensioner over 80. The lower capital limit for the Minimum Income Guarantee will be doubled from £3,000 to £6,000 while the upper limit will be raised from £8,000 to £12,000, benefiting around 500,000 pensioners who have modest savings.

In addition, we have recognised that pensioners have special needs. That is why the £100 Winter Fuel Payment has been introduced and will be increased next winter from £100 to £150 per eligible household.

Other measures which impact favourably on pensioners' incomes include the reduction of VAT on fuel from 8 per cent. to 5 per cent., the introduction of free TV licences for people over 75 next Autumn, the restoration of free eye tests, and the minimum tax guarantee which will help take 200,000 pensioners out of tax completely.

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