State pension to rise from April
The state pension
is to rise in line with inflation, Work and Pensions Secretary Andrew
Smith has told MPs.
From April, the pension for a
single person will go up by £2.15 a week to £79.60, while couples will
receive an extra £3.45 a week.
Mr Smith made the announcement
after Chancellor Gordon Brown unveiled his pre-Budget report on Wednesday.
He said there would also be
extra help for poorest pensioners and those with savings.
The Pension Credit Guarantee is
to rise in line with earnings by more than £3 to £105.45 a week for
single pensioners and by over £5 to £160.95 for couples.
Mr Smith said the threshold for the savings element would also rise in line with pensions.
typical single pensioner on income up to £144 a week would now gain from
pensions credit, he said.
An extra 106,000 pensioners
received pension credit in November and by the end of that month, more
than 2.4 million pensioners were benefiting.
Mr Smith said the troubled
application line was working well, with 96% of calls answered within 30
To help older people's choices,
those in receipt of pension credit would be able to access the full range
of employment programs, he added.
But Conservative shadow minister
Nigel Waterson told Commons the country was "in the midst of a severe
"We have the dreadful
situation of those pensioners who have lost everything because their
company has gone down and taken their pension fund with it," he said.
He said less than half of those
eligible for pension credit had benefited.