§ Lord Brockway
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What action they are taking in response to the report by the National Consumer Council that a significant number of old people have cut down on food purchases because of high prices and that the average weekly expenditure of old people on food is little more than half the national average among all the population.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Lord Trefgarne)
We continue to maintain our pledge to protect the purchasing power of the retirement pension and associated long-term benefits, as shown by the planned increase of 11 per cent. due in November. The Retail Price Index, which is used to determine the movement of prices on which the annual uprating is based, gives an average picture of the actual expenditure patterns, including expenditure on food, for nearly 90 per cent. of all households in the United Kingdom, including half of all pensioner households. The pensioner price indices, covering one- and two-person pensioner households on low incomes, do allow for expenditure of a higher proportion of net disposable income on food, but the overall movement of those indices over a period of years is slightly below the corresponding movement of the Retail Price Index. The National Food Survey shows that pensioner spending on food per head is consistently a few percentage points above the national average food expenditure per head.