HC Deb 29 October 2003 vol 412 cc313-4W
Tim Loughton

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many pensioners pay council tax in the UK; and what estimate he has made of the total tax they pay in England. [134794]

Ruth Kelly

I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Tim Loughton, dated 29 October 2003: As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking how many pensioners pay council tax in the UK and for an estimate of the total tax they pay in England. (134794) Estimates for council taxes are based on the analysis "The effects of taxes and benefits on household income 2001–02" produced by the ONS and published on the National Statistics website on October 21st 2003. The analysis can be obtained from the House of Commons library or from the National Statistics website at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/taxesbenefits. It includes measures of income inequality for the United Kingdom as a whole based on data from the Expenditure and Food Survey. This is a sample survey covering about 7,500 households in the UK and sample sizes for pensioner households are only sufficient to give very approximate estimates. Pensioner households have been defined as those where the Household Reference Person is retired or unoccupied and aged 65 or more and male, or 60 years of age or more and female, and economically inactive. Detailed information on the definition of the Household Reference Person can be found in Appendix D of the document at the following address: http://www. statistics. gov. uk/downloads/theme_social/Family_ Spendi ng_2001–02_revised/Family_Spending_revised. pdf Estimates for 2001–02 suggest that there were about 6 million pensioner households (single and couples) in Great Britain and that about 5 million of those paid council tax (i.e. their net council tax was greater than zero). Council tax is not paid in Northern Ireland. Net council tax is defined as gross council tax less benefits and discounts, where a household reports taking up a council tax benefit entitlement. The data suggests that single and couple pensioner households in England paid about 3 billion in council tax net of benefits and discounts. However, these estimates of numbers and payments will not match population data or administrative payments data because of sample size and weighting issues as well as possible inaccurate reporting by respondents.