Spending on pensions down under Labour

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown's hopes of quelling anger over pensions suffered a setback yesterday when new figures showed that spending has decreased since Labour came into office.

Gordon Brown's hopes of quelling anger over pensions suffered a setback yesterday when new figures showed that spending has decreased since Labour came into office.

Expenditure on pensions as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) has dropped to 4.1 per cent compared with 4.2 per cent under the Conservatives, according to House of Commons library figures which were collated for the Liberal Democrats.

Prof Steve Webb, the party's social security spokesman, said: "Labour has promised that pensioners would share in the increasing prosperity of the nation. The truth is that this Government has spent less of the nation's wealth on pensioners than the Tories."

The Chancellor is widely expected to announce a £5-a week rise in tomorrow's pre-Budget report in a bid to stave off pensioner's anger over the 75p increase in the state pension announced earlier this year.

But Jeff Rooker, the Pensions Minister, dismissed his charge as "drivel". He said: "This month, the over-75s start to get the free television licences. This week, cheques start to go out for the winter fuel allowances. None of this is celebrated by the parties opposite. All they can do is whinge and moan."

Looking ahead to the pre-Budget statement, he pledged: "There will be good news later in the week and we will be able to rebut in detail many more of the assertions made."

Mr Rooker raised eyebrows last night when he told MPs that computer systems used by the Department of Social Security were "rubbish". He said: "I don't think that is a secret. They are rubbish. The lack of investment over the years has brought us to this sorry state."

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