The older generation and the election - here are the letters for May 21, 2019
I write to highlight the potential problems confronting today’s pensioners.
Whilst the Brexit debate has dominated the news, it has gone unnoticed that the Government appears to have a hidden agenda in stripping the elderly of what they consider to be “outdated perks” and make Britain a fairer place for the younger generation.
Free TV licences for the over 75s, bus passes and the winter fuel payments are all in jeopardy and at risk.
If the BBC is so short of money it must compete on a commercial basis, economise and stop paying presenters 20 times the average salary for reading an autocue.
Apparently it takes 11,000 licence payers to cover £1.75m - the obscene and extravagant salary of the face of BBC sport, Gary Lineker.
A recent university study concluded that older people with bus passes are more physically active and less socially isolated than those without one, gaining clear benefits in health and well being.
A Lords Select Committee has called for those pensioners like myself, who work beyond retirement age, to continue paying NI contributions.
Sadly it doesn’t end there, a plethora of other draconian measures are in the pipeline - the abandonment of the state pension triple lock, punitive changes to pension credit payments if you lose an older partner, increased demands from HMRC on our pension income and excessive care home fees and funeral costs.
Whilst I am totally in favour of a level playing field for those at both ends of the age spectrum, I feel the older generation who have contributed to public finances throughout their long lives are being targeted unfairly.
Irony of Peers’ proposals
The Lords’ report was just the latest in a long line that have attacked pensioners’ universal benefits.
A new report from the House of Lords has proposed scrapping the triple lock on state pensions, removing the bus pass and winter fuel allowance, means-testing the TV licence and making universal benefits subject to tax.
In their attack, the peers scathingly referred to these concessions as “outdated perks”.
Whilst their report, entitled Tackling Intergenerational Unfairness, rightly recognises that younger people urgently need more support in finding affordable housing, better employment rights and improvements in the availability of education, it wrongly assumes that punishing the older generation will provide a solution.
Jan Shortt, General Secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, said: “It’s ironic that a bunch of peers that are paid £305 a day, just for turning up, along with travelling expenses, and then enjoy a subsidised meal at the public’s expense, should argue that older people have never had it so good and should start to lose some of their entitlements.
“They have completely ignored the fact that pensioner poverty is now increasing, loneliness and isolation is growing across the country and the scale of winter deaths among older people last year reached a 40-year high.”
The NPC has also pointed out that many of the additional universal benefits that pensioners receive were originally introduced so governments could avoid raising the level of the state pension.
Given that the UK state pension is bottom of the OECD league table, the need for these benefits clearly remains.
Disappointingly, whilst the Lords accept that the main inequality in society is inside generations, rather than between them, the report claims that, as this was not part of the remit of their inquiry, they have not considered it.
The convention has argued that more than at any other period in our history, society is being divided and categorised in terms of the generation into which you were born.
Such a divisive and simplistic approach incorrectly assumes that all those born into the same generation have the same life experience and outcomes, yet we know that, like all age groups, health, property wealth and income are not evenly or equally distributed.
“Solutions to young people’s problems will not be found by reducing entitlements for pensioners,” said Ms Shortt.
“Instead, improving the younger generation’s chances requires profound changes in how we structure our economy and distribute wealth.”
Why were some leaflets missing?
The postman delivered party leaflets for the coming European Elections. No Brexit party or Conservative leaflets were put through our letter boxes. Only Labour, the Green Party, and vote Tommy Robinson.
Not a stitch-up is it?