HC Deb 28 May 2004 vol 422 cc15-6W
Chris Ruane

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners were living in poverty in each of the last 25 years. [175070]

Malcolm Wicks

Poverty and social exclusion are complex and multi-dimensional issues, affecting many aspects of peoples' lives—including their living standards, health, housing, the quality of their environment and not just low income. The fifth annual "Opportunity for All" report (Cm 5956) sets out the Government's strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion and presents information on the indicators used to measure progress against this strategy.

Between 1979 and 1996, there was growing inequality between the richest and poorest pensioners. Our efforts since 1997 ensure that Government money is targeted and as a result income growth for pensioners has been much more evenly spread.

By 2002–03, there were 1.8 million fewer pensioners in absolute low income measured against a 1996–97 baseline. Over the same period the number of pensioners in relative low income (on an after housing costs basis) has fallen by half a million. These figures are for 2002–03 and so do not yet reflect the effects of the pension credit.

Body Date established Reports received by the Department 1997–20041
Disability Employment Advisory Committee August 2002 First Annual Report due later this year
Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board September 1991 Annual Report received for each year
Disability Rights Commission2 July 1999 (operational from April 2000) Annual Report received for each year since 2001

Additional Reports 2003

Disability Equality: Making it Happen—First Review of the Disability

Discrimination Act 1995

Health and Safety Commission3 July 1974 Annual Report received for each year
Health and Safety Executive July 1974 Annual Report received each year since 1998

Further information showing the proportion and number of pensioners living in low income households going back to 1979 can be found in the publication, "Households Below Average Income 1994–95 to 2002–03", a copy of which can be found in the Library.


1. The estimates are taken from the Department for Work and Pensions' publication, 'Households Below Average Income" (HBAI) series, which uses disposable household income, adjusted for household size and composition, as an income measure as a proxy for standard of living. There is no consistent time series using a single data source over the last 25 years for the number of pensioners below low income thresholds. A consistent time series is only available from 1994–95.

2. Absolute low income in the answer is measured using the number of pensioners living in households with equivalised incomes less than 60 per cent. of the 1996–97 median income held constant in real terms using the 'before housing costs' income measure reported in HBAI.

3. '60 per cent. of median' is the most commonly used measure of low income and is linked with the PSA target on child poverty. HBAI also classifies households in low income using differing fractions of mean and median income, and reports figures both on a before and after housing costs basis.

4. The income measure used is mean weekly net (disposable) equivalised household income, consistent with HBAI conventions. Income is adjusted to reflect the composition of the household, and is net of income tax, national insurance contributions and council tax.

Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of pensioners aged over 80 years receive the age addition to their pension. [175231]

Malcolm Wicks

The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is that there are 2,574,600 State Pension recipients aged 80 and over who are also in receipt of the age addition. This represents 95.3 per cent. of all State Pension recipients over the age of 80.


Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.


IAD Information Centre, 5 per cent. sample taken from the Pension Strategy Computer System as at 30 September 2003.

Forward to