Anger over exceptions to state pensions increases

Pensioners' leaders accused Alistair Darling yesterday of an "underhand and shabby" move after it emerged that his promise of a 2.5 per cent rise did not apply to all elements of the state pension.

The Chancellor's commitment to increase the basic state pension was one of the few bright spots in his pre-Budget report (PBR) on Wednesday, as he set out his plans to tackle Britain's ballooning £178bn deficit.

But it has now been revealed that the increase would not apply to extras, such as the state earnings-related pension (Serps), which will remain frozen.

The small earnings-related supplement "graduated pension", which is paid to more than 10 million people, and the extra pension of £57.05 paid to 41,000 men who have wives under 60 were also reported to have been held at this year's levels. An increase in the extra pension of £7 a week paid to 1.2 million over-60s who have delayed their retirement was also reported to be under threat.

The Pensions Minister, Angela Eagle, was reported by the BBC as saying that the move would prevent "confusion and unfairness" because Serps affects company pension payments.

But the move was bitterly condemned by the National Pensioners Convention general secretary, Dot Gibson. "Pensioners will be absolutely stunned that only part of their state pension is going to rise next year. This is unprecedented and the fact that the Chancellor never made this clear in his pre-Budget statement looks underhand and shabby," she said.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "A further statement to Parliament on Monday will set out all other benefit upratings."

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