§ 21. Mr. Nicholas Winterton
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what impact the minimum income guarantee will have on incentives to save for low earners. 
§ Mr. Bayley
One of the Government's main objectives is to encourage people to save more for their retirement where they can afford to do so, while at the same time providing extra State support for those who cannot save.
We are introducing new stakeholder pensions and reforming SERPS through the State Second Pension. These reforms will mean that, in future, people with a lifetime of working behind them will get a large enough pension to take them above the MIG, even if they have been on low earnings throughout their life. However, it takes time to build up pension entitlements, so for many, particularly those who have already retired or who are close to retirement age, these reforms come too late. That is why we introduced the MIG to make sure that the poorest pensioners are guaranteed a basic decent income in retirement, even before stakeholder pensions and the Second State Pension mature.
We recently announced an increase in the MIG capital limits to make sure that people with relatively modest savings do not lose out. We want to do more to encourage savers. In the last Budget, the Chancellor announced that we propose to consult on a new Pensioner Credit which will do just that.
Our pensions reforms should be looked at as a package. We believe the package strikes the right balance between encouraging savers, while protecting those who cannot save.
§ 26. Dr. George Turner
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioners in North-West Norfolk he estimates will benefit from the minimum income guarantee for pensioners in(a) 1999–2000 and (b) 2000–01. 
§ Mr. Bayley
Around 3,500 pensioners in North-West Norfolk benefited from the minimum income guarantee last year.34W
For this year we estimate that around 1.5 million pensioners across Great Britain will benefit from the minimum income guarantee. This information is not available at local level.
§ 27. Mr. Edwards
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement about the take-up of the minimum income guarantee for pensioners. 
§ Mr. Bayley
We have recently announced our plans for an ambitious national take-up campaign for the minimum income guarantee. Starting from the end of this month there will be intense activity on a number of fronts; including television advertising, writing to around 2 million pensioners and a new tele-claim centre which allows pensioners to make a claim over the telephone.
§ Mr. Kidney
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proportion of pensioners entitled to minimum income guarantee are receiving it. 
§ Mr. Darling
Estimates on the numbers of pensioners in receipt of the minimum income guarantee (MIG) are to be found in the DSS report "Income Related Benefits: Estimates of Take-Up, 1996/97 and 1997/98". A copy has been placed in the Library.
To encourage pensioners to take up their entitlement we have launched a national helpline which has already received nearly 31,000 calls in the last five weeks, and we are launching a national TV advertising campaign on 30 May. We are determined that as many pensioners as possible get the MIG to which they are entitled.
§ Fiona Mactaggart
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how changes in Government spending since 1997 have affected the incomes of(a) poorer pensioners and (b) pensioners with small savings. 
§ Mr. Rooker
The minimum income guarantee benefits around 1.5 million of the least well off pensioners.
From April the rates increased to £78.45 for a single pensioner this represents an extra £5 a week in real terms since 1998.
By increasing the minimum income guarantee in line with earnings, more and more pensioners with modest pensions and savings are benefiting. With an extra 92,000 cases becoming newly entitled to the MIG since April 1999.
From next April, the planned changes to capital limits will mean that pensioners with savings up to £12,000 will be entitled to the guarantee. Our estimate is that this will benefit a further 500,000 pensioners.
§ Mr. Bayley
The latest estimates were published in the DSS report "Income Related Benefits: Estimates of Take-Up, 1996/97 and 1997/98". A copy has been placed in the Library.