§ Lady Hermon
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the extent of pensioner poverty in Northern Ireland. 
§ Mr. Browne
There is no single measure of pensioner poverty. Poverty is a complex issue with various elements which affect many aspects of people's lives, including their income, living standards, health, housing and quality of environment.
A report was commissioned by Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) as part of the research and evaluation strategy for the Government's New Targeting Social Need (New TSN) initiative. This report was published in May 2002. The primary aim of the report was to assess the potential of establishing a baseline of poverty. The report utilised data from the Continuous Household Survey and estimated that there were 81,000 individual pensioners living in households in the bottom 30 per cent. of gross household incomes.
Ensuring that pensioners have a decent income is a key measure in combating pensioner poverty. At present, no pensioner has to live on less than £98.15 a week under the minimum income guarantee (£149.80 for couples). From April 2003 these rates will increase to £102.10 for single pensioners and £155.80 for couples.