§ Mr. Silvester
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether it remains the Government's intention to pay small retirement and widows pensions of less than £1 a week annually in arrears; and, if so, what steps are being taken to implement that proposal.
§ Dr. Boyson
Yes. Disproportionate cost is involved in paying very small pensions of £1 a week or less, as now, by weekly order book, four-weekly payable order or quarterly girocheque or payable order. These arrangements will continue unchanged until December 1983, but from next year payment will be made annually by payable order, except where this would cause undue hardship, when more frequent payment will still be possible. The first annual payment will be made towards the end of 1984 and will be combined with the Christmas bonus payment. Some 150,000 existing pensioners, mainly married women whose husbands have not yet retired, will be affected by the change and a letter explaining the new arrangements will be sent to each of them during July and August 1983.