Self-isolating pensioners have today picked up the biggest increase in their state pension in almost a decade – but campaigners say they are still among the poorest in Europe.
The state pension has gone up by 3.9 per cent, which is the largest rise since 2012.
It means that over a year, people receiving a basic state pension will be around £262 better off.
People receiving a category A or B pension will see their income rise from £129.20 to £134.25.
A category B pension, based on a spouse or partner’s National Insurance contributions, and the category D non-contributory pension, have both increased from £77.45 to £80.45.
The full rate of the state pension has gone up from £168.60 to £175.20.
However, campaigners have warned that despite the increase, pensioners are still comparatively poor when compared to some of their European neighbours.
For example in Holland, which is widely regarded to have one of the pest pension systems in Europe, a single person on tax credit will receive 1,187 euros a month. That’s the equivalent of £260 per week.
Andy Day, co-ordinator of the North Staffordshire Pensioners’ Association, said: “In general, pensions in Britain are among the lowest in Western Europe.
“People in Germany and France receive a much more generous pension.
“Pensioners in Britain are the poor relations of pensioners in other developed countries – and that has been the case since I first started working for the Pensioners’ Association in 1995.
“That’s the reality people face – they might be getting a rise, but 3.9 per cent of quite a small amount is still not very much.”
Alex Shaw, aged 79, of Longton – a member of the connvention – said: “It means a lot of pensioners in Britain have to economise very carefully.
“Some are worse off than they were 10 years ago.”
Simon Harris, chief executive of Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent, said: “Pensions and pension benefits have gone up quite a lot in the last few years, but they do lag behind some other countries in Europe.
“While we welcome the increase, we are still playing catch-up.
“People are working longer now and delaying their pension, but the lockdown will have an impact on that.
“Most pensioners are paid directly into their bank accounts, so at least they don’t have to go out to collect their pensions.
“But with older people likely to be high risk and having to isolate themselves, the pension becomes more important because they have few alternatives to supplement their income.”
In Britain, the pension is protected by the triple lock, which means the amount paid is increased every year in line with inflation, average earnings, or 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest.
As average earnings went up by 3.9 per cent in the three months leading to July 2019, that figure was used to determine the increase.
However, despite the pension rise there is some bad news, as the adult dependency payment (ADI) is being stopped, which could mean thousands of pensions are cut by £70 a week.
ADI is a payment for a partner who is financially dependent on you and hasn’t yet reached pension age.
The scheme closed to new applications in 2010 and will cease entirely on April 6.