HC Deb 21 October 2002 vol 391 cc113-4W
Sir Teddy Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of persons of pensionable age there will be in(a) 10 and (b) 20 years' time; and if he will make a statement on the implications for public expenditure of these estimates. [73086]

Mr. McCartney

It is estimated that there will be around 12 million people of pensionable age in 10 years time and around 12.5 million in 20 years time. The impact of an ageing population on the UK's public finances is expected to be manageable. The UK's public finances are sound and sustainable over the long term.

The Government's long-term reforms will ensure that everyone has the chance to save for a decent income in retirement. Stakeholder pensions now provide a new option of safe, flexible, value for money pensions for people on moderate and higher earnings who do not have access to a good occupational scheme.

The Government also wants private pensions to remain attractive to members and to scheme providers. That is why steps are being taken to simplify the private pensions system while at the same time safe-guarding the security of scheme members.

The State Second Pension, introduced in April 2002, means that low earners will get at least double what they would have got from SERPS, while carers and disabled people with broken work records will be entitled to a second pension for the first time.

The next stage in the Government's strategy is the Pension Credit. From 2003, this will tackle both poverty amongst today's pensioners and complement stakeholder pensions by boosting the incentive for future pensioners to save for their own retirement.

Andrew Selous

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the take-up of income related benefits by pensioners. [73098]

Mr. McCartney

As a result of the national Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) take up campaign, over 139,000 pensioners are on average £20 a week better off. Over 2 million people now benefit from the MIG.

We have introduced a range of initiatives to improve the take up of MIG, including, a revised and substantially shortened claim form and a new leaflet explaining MIG in simple terms. We have also put in place measures to identify those pensioners who may be entitled to the MIG. Since October 2001 callers to the Retirement Pension telecentre who are not in receipt of MIG, but identified as possible claimants, have been encouraged to claim. Since April 2002 non-recipients of MIG who have potential entitlement following certain key life events, such as reaching age 75 or 80, or who are awarded another benefit such as Attendance Allowance, are automatically identified and invited to claim.

We are working with pensioner organisations and Local Authorities on take up initiatives which ensure pensioners on low incomes claim what they are entitled to.

As at May 2001, there are 1,939,000 pensioners are in receipt of Housing Benefit and 2,891,000 pensioners are in receipt of Council Tax Benefit.*


* Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information Annual 1 per cent. sample enquiry taken in May 2001