HC Deb 28 April 2003 vol 404 cc191-2W
Keith Vaz

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average percentage difference between men's and women's pensions was in(a) 1973, (b) 1980, (c) 1990 and (d) 2000; what measures he is taking to reduce the gap; and if he will make a statement. [106128]

Maria Eagle

We have answered the question in relation to the average amounts of state pension paid to men and women. The available information is shown in the following table:

Average amounts of state pension in payment

(£ per week)


(£ per week)


(£ per week)


pension as a


of men's

December 1972 6.34 7.00 5.99 85.6
November 1980 25.27 28.21 23.64 83.8
September 1990 46.04 54.76 41.36 75.5
September 2000 67.40 81.71 59.05 72.3

Notes and sources:

1. Figures for all years for women include pension paid on their own and their husband's contributions.

2. 1990 and 1980 figures exclude increase for dependants.

3. 1972 figures exclude old person's pension.

4. Pension Strategy Computer System, 5 per cent. sample at 30 September 2000.

Social Security Statistics September 1990, November 1980 and November 1972.

We recognise that the majority of pensioners are women, and are committed to ensuring that our pension reforms improve women's pension rights.

Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) was introduced in 1978 to assist people, especially women, who were precluded from work for periods by caring responsibilities, to maintain their entitlement to basic state pension. The state second pension introduced in April 2002 is of particular benefit to women, many of whom work part-time or as carers.

We have announced that HRP will be extended to foster carers for each full tax year for which they are registered as an approved foster carer. This means that they will be covered for periods when they are awaiting a placement and will benefit emergency foster carers who are ready to take in a child at any time. It is expected that around 7,000 to 8,000 foster carers will benefit from this each year.

In addition to changes to state pension, we have made other changes that will be of particular help to women. We introduced the winter fuel payment which is worth £200 per household and the minimum income guarantee which this year is £102.10 a week for a single pensioner and £155.80 for a couple. From October 2003, the new pension credit will benefit lower income pensioners further still. Two thirds of people receiving pension credit will be women, half of whom will be aged 80 or over. Also, in the 2003 Budget we announced that an extra £100 will be paid to households with someone aged 80 or over for the lifetime of this Parliament.

In April 2001, stakeholder pensions were introduced as part of the long-term reforms to ensure that everyone has the chance to save for a decent income in retirement.

So far, a series of leaflets have been produced 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. Also in the recent Green Paper "Simplicity, security and choice: Working and saving for retirement" we have said that we propose to look at how best to ensure that women are aware of their pension position and the choices they make.

Forward to