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Friday, 28 April, 2000, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Pension rise confirmed

Pensions are to rise next April
The basic state pension is likely to rise by 2 a week for single people and 3 a week for couples, according to the government.

The announcement was made by the Department of Social Security after reconfirming figures announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown during this year's Budget statement.

The rises are based on the current inflation forecasts for next year and will come on stream in April 2001.

The announcement follows this year rise of 75p which was criticised by both by some Labour backbenchers and pensioners' campaigners.

Labour's pension problems

Labour backbenchers have long been calling for a significant rise in the state pension, believing it will help bolster support from the party's traditional voters ahead of the next general election.

At present government policy is to increase pensions in line with inflation.

The DSS says that the rise is being based on the latest forecast for inflation this September being at 3.5%, what happens if inflation is lower remains unclear.

A Labour Party spokesman told the BBC that the party did 'have a problem' with the 75p increase but believed that Labour did 'have a good story to tell' about the likely size of next April's increase.

Speaking in March Gordon Brown said: "These new measures will complement next year's rise in the retirement pension. Based on forecast rates of inflation, we can expect the pension rise in April 2001 to be more than 2 for single pensioners and over 3 for couples."

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