What are the details of the Government’s payment of £100 for the over 70s, to help with their council tax?
13 May 2004
This is a letter which I have received from the Minister of State for Work and Pensions.

Department for Work and Pensions
Richmond House
79 Whitehall
London SW1A 2NS


12 May 2004

Dear Colleague

I am writing to update you on the extra £100 payment to households with someone aged 70 or over, announced by the Chancellor in his Budget speech on 17 March. I know that news of the payment has generated a large number of enquiries from constituents over the intervening weeks.

We are making the payment in response to the concerns expressed by many pensioners about the impact on their finances of recent increases in household bills including council tax. Most people aged over 70 are on fixed incomes and evidence shows that their council tax bills take a higher share of their income than the rest of the population.

The average council tax rise for 2004/05 for band D and band E properties is less than £100. This £100 payment is intended not only to cover most council tax increases but also to provide some help with other living expenses for the poorer pensioners

The Age-Related Payments Bill which will provide the statutory authority to make the payment was introduced on 22 April and has its Second Reading today. The Bill will ensure that the payment will be made:
• in addition to any other entitlements which pensioners are receiving; .with the 2004/05 Winter Fuel Payment; .to someone who:
• is ordinarily resident in Great Britain for at least one day in the relevant week starting on Monday 20 September and ending with Sunday 26 September; and
• attains the age of 70 years on or before Sunday 26 September .

Together with the Winter Fuel Payment, households with someone aged over 70 will receive £300 in 2004/05 and pensioner households with someone aged over 80 will receive £400. People who do not get a Winter Fuel Payment will need to claim the £100 from this Department; information about this will be included in the usual Winter Fuel Payment take-up campaign.

Of course, this does not mean that there is no help available for younger pensioners. Pension Credit tops up pensioners' incomes to a guaranteed weekly amount, which is now £105.45 for single pensioners and £160.95 for couples. These amounts are higher for people with disabilities, caring responsibilities or certain housing costs. In addition, Pension Credit can reward people over 65 who have made modest additional provision for retirement. This is now worth up to £15.51 per week for single pensioners and £20.22 for couples. Your constituents can obtain more information about Pension Credit by calling the application line on freephone 0800 99 1234.

Even if pensioners are not eligible for Pension Credit, they may still receive help through Council Tax Benefit. With the Pension Credit reforms, over a million pensioners are entitled to extra Council Tax Benefit, and as it is rolled out, we are ensuring that many pensioners are getting help paying their council tax bills for the first time.



Malcolm Wicks MP
 
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