UK- UK pensioners can expect a larger basic state pension following the announcement that it is to rise by at least £100 a year irrespective of the rate of inflation.

Addressing the House of Commons, Chancellor Gordon Brown said that this year it will increase £3 a week for single people and £4.80 for couples. He said that, from next year, five million pensioners stand to gain from the pension credit by an average £400 a year.

On the subject of occupational pensions, Brown’s budget had little to say and received a muted reception.

“It was a quiet budget for pensions. No concessions and no real encouragements,” was how Paul Greenwood, head of retirement research at Mercers Human Resource Consulting described it.

The Chancellor said that age related personal allowances will outstrip inflation in 2003-4. An elderly taxpayer will be able to set the first £6,610 of their income against tax and, for those over 75, the figure will be £6,740.

However, from next April employers, employees and the self-employed will have to pay an additional 1% national insurance on all earnings above £4,615.