Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Minister hails 'largest ever' state pension hike

Pensioners will benefit from "the largest ever cash rise in the basic state pension", as a result of the triple lock guarantee introduced by the coalition government, Pensions Minister Steve Webb has told MPs.

The guarantee ensures that pensions will rise either in line with earnings, prices or 2.5% - whichever is higher.

Mr Webb was speaking in the Commons as he delivered the annual benefits uprating statement on 6 December 2011.

Benefits are due to go up by 5.2% from next April, in line with September's inflation figures.

Mr Webb said uprating in 2012-13 would protect "those who have worked hard all their lives, poorer pensioners, those who are not able to work because of their disabilities and those who, through no fault of their own, have lost their jobs and are trying to find work".

He told MPs the new rate for the basic state pension would be £107.45 for a single person, an increase of £5.30 per week.

He added: "I can announce therefore that from April 2012 the basic state pension is forecast to be 17.1% of average earnings, a higher share of average earnings than in any year of the last Labour Government since 1997."

Labour attacked the government's "failing" economic policy, with shadow work and pensions minister Gregg McClymont claiming that working families were paying the price.

He said the government's benefits policy "hits the poorer hardest" and women would be hit harder than men.

Conservative MP Philip Davies criticised the government for increasing benefits when "hard-working taxpayers" were facing pay freezes.

Mr Webb insisted the government was doing all it could to make work pay, citing policies including the universal credit and cuts to fuel duty. He also said increases in the personal tax allowance was a "real reward for working".

Jenny Willott, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, called for simplification of the pension system so that people could see what pension they could expect.

Mr Webb said the government was working to make it easier for people to see exactly what they were entitled to receive.


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