§ Mr. Bayley
[holding answer 4 February 2000]: The last take-up estimates, covering 1997–98, were published in September 1999. Estimates of numbers of pensioners with incomes below the minimum income guarantee who are excluded for reasons of excess capital are not yet available.
§ Mr. Flynn
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much higher the income of(a) a single pensioner and (b) a pensioner couple not receiving income support would be in the year 2000–01 if the basic retirement pension had been uprated in (i) 1998, (ii) 1999 and (iii) 2000 in line with average earnings. 
§ Mr. Rooker
The information is in the table.
While our priority is to target help to those pensioners in greatest need through the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG), we have provided significant help to all pensioners. During this Parliament, we will have spent nearly £1.9 billion more on Winter Fuel Payments and the MIG than on earnings uprating the basic State Pension. Clearly, given constraints on resources, if we had uprated the basic pension in line with earnings, we would not have been able to provide the level of help we have, particularly to the poorest pensioners. Also earnings uprating the basic State Pension does not help them as the increase would be offset by a pound-for-pound reduction in the MIG they received. All these aspects need to be taken into account when using figures in the table.
£.p. (a) (b) ((a)-(b)) Pensioner status Year Actual rate payable Rate payable if uprated in line with average earnings Weekly difference Single Pensioner 1998 64.70 65.00 0.30 1999 66.75 68.20 1.45 2000 67.50 71.25 3.75 Pensioner Couple 1998 103.40 103.90 0.50 1999 106.70 109.00 2.30 2000 107.90 113.90 6.00
1. Average Earnings Index Whole Economy (Non-seasonally adjusted), as published by the Office for National Statistics.
2. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 5 pence at each uprating.
§ Dr. Stoate
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioners in Dartford will benefit from the recent increase in the minimum income guarantee. 
§ Mr. Bayley
Around 2,000 pensioners in the parliamentary constituency of Dartford are receiving their minimum income guarantee paid through Income Support, and have benefited from the recent increase in benefit rates.