Posts Tagged ‘pensions’

A piles of copper penniesI’m getting a bit fed up now of the constant carping by Government and the national media on how ‘wealthy pensioners’ are the new scroungers and that they don’t deserve the benefits they currently enjoy.

I have to state here and now that I have always, throughout my working life, thought that we – the working majority – have a duty of care towards those in retirement and those unable to care for themselves.  As I am fast approaching this venerable stage of life I see no reason to change my opinion now.

Nor do I believe that the rights and benefits I have worked towards all of my life should be reduced or removed.

What is wealth? What do politicians and newspaper columnists mean when they talk about wealthy pensioners?

We are all led into thinking that millionaires like (for example) Lord Sugar should not be entitled to a free bus pass or winter fuel payments. Because of course, he is wealthy. He is wealthy by any scale we use – but I still think that if he and others like him have paid their dues for all their working life, as I have, then they should the same benefit as the rest of us. However – can you honestly see him using a bus pass or actually noticing his winter fuel payment? Really?  He and his businesses will pay more BACK through taxes and the various other ways that HMG suck us dry than we can possibly dream of.

The real issue is that once the populace have accepted, as they are now being led to accept, that wealthy pensioners are scroungers and that those benefits (which all pensioners have worked for, all their lives) should be removed, everyone will lose out.

If HMG remove the right to free bus passes, they will stop funding the bus companies and the bus companies will stop running socially needed buses. In many areas, this is already a huge problem but if bus company revenue dries up even more, they will provide less services. If winter fuel payments stop (which don’t actually cover the cost of winter fuel anyway) then more ‘wealthy’ and not-so-wealthy pensioners will die.

I don’t want my parents (in their 80s) or their contemporaries to have to remain in the house simply because there are no buses or worse, to die because they can’t afford to eat AND heat.

And I don’t want to be faced with the same options myself at any time in the future.

Remember – my generation has paid its dues for over forty years; everything various governments have asked. We have done so in the knowledge (the belief?) that our payments were being invested in a social service that aimed to improve the lives of pensioners and those unable to fend for themselves. And to secure our own futures.

Do not let this change. Do not let the insidious drip-feed of lies become the truth.


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Sixty (two)

We now slip quietly into November, the clocks have gone back and the leaves have finally started to fall off the trees. I rarely see leaves on trees on my December birthday but the actual ‘drop’ gets closer to it year by year.

Must be global warming they say, but I first heard about global warning back in 1967 at college, it’s taken some time to recognise that hasn’t it?

Nevertheless, although I really hate winter, there’s a comforting regularity about it. Something you can expect to happen that happens! Unlike pension planning these days.

Not that I’m ready for retiring yet, not by a long chalk, but as much of my working life has been in self-employment, I’ve had to provide for my own pension whenever I could and whenever the law allowed me. These ‘private’ pensions mature at 60. I never expected much so I’m not as disappointed as I could be with what looks like coming to me in December.

Luckily, I’ve also spent almost twenty years in education and 15/80ths (which looks like being my share because of large periods of part-time work) of a teacher’s pension is better than a poke in the eye. However, due to market turbulence my private pension pot is tiny and the cost of annuities (which the law says I HAVE TO BUY) is huge. After this week’s stock market shocks, the value looks like being even worse than I’d hoped. Ten years ago, I might have expected something like 10-11% return on my pension pot; today I might struggle to get 4-5%.

And once again, I have to ask – what did I do wrong? Whenever I could, and could afford, I paid into private pensions. When I first started teaching (part-time) the law prevented me from supplementing my pension (which took some time to gain access to as I was prevented from joining the TPP until that situation was eventually overturned by European courts) with a private one – despite me being self-employed at the time. It was one or the other.

Then the current crash came along and they started messing with the national retirement age too. I may just be able to retire with a pension at 65, but that remains to be confirmed: at one time it looked like I would fall into the ‘retire at 66’ band. I won’t get a bus-pass until I’m almost 63 because of the sliding scale imposed some time ago. But I hear that prescriptions will be free (but for how long?) whoo ooo.

I suppose we get used to winter as it just comes once a year but pension time and retirement only comes once in a lifetime and, apart from making sure we have one, we have very little control.

Now, please remind me, what are we celebrating with all the bonfires? Ah – really? Now there’s a good idea!

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