§ Mr. Cousins
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many pensioner claimants of income support there were in(a) the North East, (b) the City of Newcastle upon Tyne and (c) the constituency of Newcastle upon Tyne and what the average payment of income support was in each of the last three years; how many claimants of the pensioners' income guarantee there now are for the same areas; and what was the average payment of income support in each of the last three years. 
§ Mr. Bayley
The Minimum Income Guarantee is delivered through Income Support. It was designed to provide poorer pensioners with a higher income threshold and this April was increased in line with average earnings. The current rates are £78.45 for a single pensioner and £121.95 for a couple. The information is in the table.
Income Support pensioners in Newcastle Central Parliamentary constituency, Newcastle City local authority, and North-east Government Office region —February 1998 to 2000 Number Average weekly amount(£) North-east February 1998 93,600 36.19 February 1999 91,200 36.58 February 2000 91,400 38.71 Newcastle Central PC February 1998 3,600 31.70 February 1999 3,500 33.78 February 2000 3,500 40.11 Newcastle City LA February 1998 11,500 32.89 February 1999 10,900 34.88 February 2000 11,400 37.84
1.Figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling error.
2.Pensioners are defined as benefit units where the claimant, and/or partner are aged 60 or over.
3. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.
Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiries, February 1998 to 2000