HC Deb 05 March 2001 vol 364 cc64-5W
22. Mr. Bennett

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to help pensioners who have savings. [150506]

Mr. Rooker

Pensioners who make provision for their retirement should be and will be rewarded for doing so. From next month, we will raise the capital limits in the Minimum Income Guarantee.

In addition, the pension credit will be designed to reward pensioners with modest pensions and savings. Part of our proposals for the pension credit includes the abolition of the current capital rules, with consideration given to the income from savings instead.

26. Liz Blackman

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what recent discussions he has had with pensioner organisations about the level of spending by his Department on pensioners. [150510]

Mr. Rooker

All spending on benefits by my Department is scrutinised by Parliament. I have not had any recent meetings with pensioner organisations to discuss issues specifically relating to spending—nor would it be appropriate for me to do so. However, the fact that we are spending £4 5 billion this year on pensioners has been widely welcomed.

Helen Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he is taking to tackle pensioner poverty. [150508]

Mr. Rooker

Our record speaks volumes. This April, around two million of the poorest pensioner households will be at least £15 a week, or £800 a year, better off in real terms as a result of Government measures since 1997. That is a real terms rise in living standards of at least 17 per cent.

Mr. Beith

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will propose to amend the Social Security Benefit (Computation of Earnings) Regulations 1996 so as to provide that where the dependant of a state pensioner earns money and is paid monthly there would be no deduction from the state pensioner's benefit in respect of any weeks within that monthly period in which no money was earned by the dependant. [152004]

Mr. Rooker

The Computation of Earnings Regulations, which were introduced in October 1996, align the method of calculation of earnings for the non-income-related benefits with that used for the income-related benefits. The change was designed to remove inconsistencies between benefits and reduce complexity in the social security scheme. The current rules are intended to make the calculation of earnings fair, easy to understand and straightforward to administer, while ensuring similarity of treatment between people in similar circumstances.

We have no plans to change the present arrangements.

Mr. Swinney

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the impact on income-related benefits for pensioners of the basic state pension being uprated in line with earnings from 2002–03. [151796]

Mr. Rooker

In 2002–03, we will be spending over £5 billion a year extra in real terms on pensioners as a result of policies since 1997. This will be £3 billion more a year than if the basic state pension had been linked to earnings since April 1998.

Mr. Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what arrangements he has made to ensure that his Department can inform individually those who will be retiring with a SERPS pension after 2002 that their spouse will not be entitled to full inherited rights. [151919]

Mr. Rooker

We are writing to all pensioners to reassure them that they will not be affected by the change in the rules. Regulations were laid on 26 February to put into effect the proposals announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 29 November. Subject to parliamentary approval for these regulations, arrangements are being made to inform the large number of people affected and to answer queries from individuals about their own entitlement to SERPS.