Cameron hails state pensions boost

Oxford Mail: Average state pension payments will rise to 124 pounds a week Average state pension payments will rise to 124 pounds a week

Prime Minister David Cameron has hailed a £5.30 weekly boost to state pensions that has come into force as proof of the Government's "commitment to the elderly".

Basic rate payments will increase to £107.45 a week after inflation in September - the month when the uprating of benefits is set - hits 5.2%.

It comes after intense criticism of the Government's treatment of pensioners in the wake of last month's Budget. Chancellor George Osborne announced he was "simplifying" tax arrangements by phasing out age-related allowances, a move that was instantly dubbed the "granny tax".

Mr Cameron said: "We owe older people in society our respect, our support and our care. That's why from the start I've made sure this government protects pensioners and gives them the help they need.

"We brought in the triple-lock to restore the link between pensions and earnings - guaranteeing the basic state pension rises by whichever is highest out of rises in prices, average earnings or 2.5%.

"Today we're delivering with a 5.2% increase in the basic state pension, an extra £5.30 a week, the largest cash rise in history. At a time when we're having to make cuts elsewhere, this is further proof of this Government's commitment to the elderly."

The payment increase will cost the Treasury an extra £4.5 billion this year. When additional pension payments are included, such as entitlements built up under the State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme, average state payments will now be £124 a week, according to officials.

However, the National Pensioners Convention criticised the basic state pension rise, arguing it would have been higher if the Government had continued to uprate benefits in line with the Retail Prices Index, which recorded inflation at 5.6% in September, instead of switching to the Consumer Prices Index.

General secretary Dot Gibson said: "The Prime Minister must think pensioners are stupid if he thinks we're going to swallow his claims about the rise in the state pension.

"If his Government hadn't changed the link with inflation from the Retail Prices Index to the Consumer Prices Index, the state pension would be going up by £5.70 a week rather than the £5.40 some pensioners are getting or the £3.10 that millions of older women will get."

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