HC Deb 10 April 2002 vol 383 cc237-40W
Mr. Mark Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the numbers of contributors to(a)defined benefit occupational pension schemes, (b)defined contribution occupational pension schemes in (i) 1992, (ii) 1997 and (iii) the most recent year for which figures are available. [40195]

Mr. McCartney

The information requested is not available. The available information is given in the table.

Contributors to occupational pension schemes in the UK
1991 1995
Defined benefit 9,800 9,200
Defined contribution 900 1,100
Total 10,700 10,300


1. The GAD survey does not separate public sector schemes into defined benefit and defined contribution. It has been assumed that all public sector scheme members are in defined benefit schemes but the figures given for defined benefit will include a small number of public sector workers who are members of defined contribution schemes.

2. 1995 is the latest year for which information is available. The next GAD survey of occupational pension schemes covering the position in 2000 is due for publication later this year.


'Occupational Pension Schemes' Surveys by the Government Actuary's Department (GAD) 1991, 1995.

Ms Oona King

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if his Department will consult on the introduction of compulsory pensions. [41730]

Mr. McCartney

Any employee earning over the primary threshold is making compulsory contributions to their pensions through national insurance.

Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the basis is of the attribution of income to a private pension pot before annuitisation for the assessment of income support on the minimum income guarantee; and how many claimants of each benefit were subject to such an attribution. [37032]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

The income from an annuity purchased from a pension fund is taken fully into account for MIG purposes.

If a person over 60 has not taken an annuity he is treated as having a notional income of the amount he could have obtained if he had used his pension fund to buy an annuity. A similar approach is intended for pension credit.

Information regarding the number of claimants subject to such an attribution is not available.

Mr. Frank Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will set out the circumstances under which SERPS entitlement can be offset against entitlement to a guaranteed minimum pension. [46435]

Maria Eagle

There are no circumstances under which SERPS entitlement can be offset against an individual's guaranteed minimum pension but the guaranteed minimum pension is offset against an individual's SERPS entitlement.

Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on how his policies for pensions will affect women. [45907]

Maria Eagle

We are committed to ensuring that our pension reforms significantly improve women's pension rights.

In April 2001 we introduced simple, low charge, flexible stakeholder pensions which are not restricted to those who are working. Women who wish to save towards a decent income in retirement can now do so and benefit from tax relief on the contributions paid into a stakeholder pension.

Stakeholder pensions can be moved between providers without charge. This is beneficial to those women in the modern labour market who move regularly between employers and occupations and who at different times, may be self employed, employed on a limited term contract or on a permanent contract.

The flexibility of stakeholder pensions means that they are a good option for women who take a break from work, for example to raise a family, as contributions can be started and stopped without penalty. As stakeholder pensions are open to non-earners those women who are not employed but can afford to save something towards their retirement can now do so. Stakeholder pension rules also allow family or friends to contribute towards someone else's pension, which may help the large number of women who are carers.

From April 2002, state second pension will boost the pensions of low and moderately paid employees and, for the first time, will provide additional pension for carers and some long-term disabled people. It will be of particular benefit to women, many of whom work part-time or as carers.

Some 2 million carers, at least 1.5 million of whom are women, will begin to build up entitlement to additional pension for the first time under state second pension. Just over 4.5 million low earners, 70 per cent. of whom are women, and 9.5 million moderate earners will gain under state second pension.

The minimum income guarantee for low-income pensioners, most of whom are women, allows people to have £12,000 savings and still qualify for extra support. From April 2002, minimum income guarantee will rise to £98.15 for single pensioners and £149.80 for couples. Currently, over 1.1 million women are in receipt of the minimum income guarantee.

From 2003, the new pension credit will benefit lower income pensioners. Two thirds of people receiving pension credit will be women, half of whom will be aged 80 or over. By April 2003, as a result of the pension credit no single pensioner will have to live on less than £100 a week (£154 for couples).

Winter fuel payments, at £200 for each eligible household, aim to ensure that no older person is fearful of turning up the heating in cold weather. Last winter (2000–01), over 11 million people aged 60 or over in around 8.5 million households received a payment; around 6.3 million of these recipients were women. In addition those aged 75 and over, the majority of whom are women, have been eligible for a free TV licence since February last year.

Under pension sharing legislation, couples whose divorces commenced on or after 1 December 2000 are able to apply to the courts to share the capitalised value of any pension rights held by either or both of them, a measure which benefits many women.

The Government recognise the importance of providing people with sound information on which types of pension provision best suit their individual need and circumstances. We will ensure that clear and understandable guidance is available to assist people in planning for their pension provision. So far, we have produced a series of leaflets to inform the public of the pension options open to them. One of these, "Pensions for Women", outlines the pension options available specifically for women.

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