Friday, 26 April 2013

Benefits for Pensioners

Far too often I hear the left wing of politics complain about benefits - or the lack of them.

Certainly there are flaws in the investigation system handled by ATOS and I appreciate that we should support people who are unable to work, owing to some form of disability, but what about the whingers who moan about the pension those of us who are retired receive from the Treasury?

The first part of my answer is rhetorical.  Don't they understand that the Treasury is stocked by the taxes of working people?

Shortly I will be 67 and have received the state pension since I became 60.  As I paid the 'full stamp' throughout my long working life, I receive a little more than the basic state pension.  However, the 'little more' is just that and certainly has no relation, in percentage rates, to the pension women who paid the 'married woman's stamp' receive. My attitude is it's a case of 'you win some and lose some' in this instance.

But let's not forget about Gordon Brown's pensions grab. When I was saving towards my retirement I thought I would be financially secure enough to pay my bills and have the proverbial sunshine holiday once a year.  Sadly, Gordon Brown's theft destroyed my careful plans and there was nothing I could do about it. 

What other benefits do pensioners receive?  Much is said about the free TV licence for the over 75s, but that cost is a drop in the ocean. I've told, reliably, that it's not worth the effort applying for it because the paperwork is excessive.

Next come free prescriptions - indeed, as we grow older many of us require more medical care and as a result often prescribed medication.  The route the English NHS is on may result in all of us having to pay a basic fee to see a GP and also prescriptions.  Personally I don't think that's a bad idea, but the healthcare system is in such a mess that small changes will be insignificant in the great scheme of things.  The UK should have introduced a system like Germany or Switzerland many years ago.  These insurance systems ensure everyone has access to healthcare but, as with BUPA and the like, the more expensive the policy, the more 'enhanced' the treatment.  In my years within these systems I never felt, because I paid a basic rate, that my treatment was inferior to someone with a more 'exclusive' insurance. 

Then there is the 'Christmas bonus' - the Labour party's attempt to buy the grey vote. This money is quite unnecessary, although welcome and helps with the ever increasing winter fuel bills.  It's unnecessary because, for pensioners who struggle to pay for heat and food in our cold winters, there are supposedly safety nets. Of course few work and once again, older people find applying for 'charity' humiliating.

Bus passes.  What can I say?  I don't possess one but should I be unable to drive one day, I could well find one very useful. A big part of being older is managing to keep a social life and for many a bus pass is invaluable but it could be means tested.  

Governments say that means testing is expensive, but these days they hold so much information on each and every one of us, that it shouldn't be difficult to assess entitlement.

The general opinion from younger generations is that pensioners have a comfortable life. Many do and many aren't so fortunate, but what should be remembered is that far more of today's over 60s/65s contributed taxes throughout their long working lives.  Most started work at 15 or 16 because universities were outwith families' income and further education was gained in evenings and often at the student's expense.  We tried to expand/improve our skills because there was a possibility that we could earn more money. 

Out of all the 'benefits' pensioners receive perhaps only the 'Christmas bonus' should be revised, but I doubt if any politician would be brave enough.  Otherwise, leave our 'benefits' alone. A large section of older people quietly continue to contribute to society either through volunteering or caring for family or others. 


JimS said...

TV licencing should be done away with and replaced with a block grant raised from general taxation. The present system penalises the poor as it is a flat rate 'tax' yet the millionaire who provides a room for his granny can pay nothing legally.

I don't understand the bit about 75 year olds. For them it is easy to get the benefit, you just tick the over 75 box basically.

As for bus passes, this is just sour grapes and Nick Clegg stupidity, (what's new?). Essentially they are a subsidy to the bus industry who are being paid for what would be empty seats. The local bus industry is in big trouble. Fuel prices are going up, subsidies are being cut. The cost of buses rises to meet EU regulations which get ever more stringent. Our local First bus group found that the last price rise didn't increase revenue. Without the bus pass off-peak services WILL all go.

Not only does the bus pass get older people out of the house, it helps preserve the service for those who have to pay. How will the 'worker' take a half-day when there is no mid-day bus service? Simple, take the car, losing yet another 'payer' in the morning.

Joe Public said...

Don't tolerate the whingers, Rosie, remind your readers they'll all be of pensionable age one day.

As for "Means Testing", that must be a complete & utter waste of time & resources. Why should someone who's lived a simple & frugal life, without foreign holidays etc to build up a nest egg, benefit less than a spendthrift who's frittered their income away??

As you rightly highlight, it was the most incompetent Chancellor & Prime Minister the UK's ever had, that irresponsibly raided everyone's pension pot. [And continues to rob salt in the wounds by accepting his monthly pay cheque for salary + generous 'expenses' whilst moonlighting.]

Hamish said...

As I have commented before, I don't believe in pampering the elderly, most of whom are selfish whingers. That's how they get to be old. Always first into the lifeboats.
Bus passes and oyster cards are a great convenience but it is ageism to provide them free for the elderly and not for others.
As for bribing people in their dotage to watch TV, words fail me.

Those who have a full record of National Insurance contributions receive a fair whack of a state pension, which remains index-linked, unlike most benefits.

I'd like to see more emphasis on increasing benefits for those who get a rough deal at present, and reducing transport and heating costs for all.

I'm old by the way, but you knew that.

subrosa said...

JimS, a 75 year old I know was asked to send a copy of his birth certificate, hence my remark about hassle.

subrosa said...

Some good points Joe. I too am weary of hearing that, because I live in a nice house and have been sensible most of my life, that I should move to a box and give over the house I love to younger people. That nonsense has some youngsters thinking 'why bother to work hard and try to improve yourself when so many will criticise you'.

subrosa said...

Jeez Hamish, I doubt if I'd manage to get into any lifeboat, I struggle enough with stairs. :)

We've only had index-linked pensions reinstated recently I think?

We're as old as we feel. From 30 - 80 here. :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails