HC Deb 08 July 2003 vol 408 cc761-2W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the impact of the(a) minimum income guarantee and (b) pension credit on pensioner poverty. [124196]

Malcolm Wicks

The Government wants all pensioners to have a decent and secure income in retirement. The Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG), introduced in April 1999, has boosted the income of the poorest pensioners. Since April 2003 a single pensioner is nearly £18 a week better off in real terms than in 1997 from the MIG rises. A pensioner couple is nearly £28 a week better off. We also want everyone who is entitled to this help to get it now, and as a result of our national MIG take up campaign over 150,000 pensioners are £20 a week better off.

Pension Credit when it is introduced in October 2003 will go even further and for the first time reward, not penalise, those pensioners who have saved for their retirement. Pensioner households entitled to Pension Credit will be £400 a year better off on average. Following the introduction of Pension Credit the average pensioner household will be over £1,250 a year better off than in 1997 due to the Governments personal tax and benefit changes. To ensure maximum take up of Pension Credit we are writing to pensioner households to explain Pension Credit and invite applications. In addition around 1.8 million people in receipt of the Minimum Income Guarantee have been advised they will be transferred automatically to Pension Credit. There will also be regional and national TV and press advertising.