A House of Lords committee, chaired by Lord (Baron) True, recently proposed that pensioners should be stripped of various ‘perks’. These included the free TV licence for the over 75s, winter heating allowance and free bus passes.
Perks? I don’t think so! These Lords seem to forget that we have worked hard for our pensions, meagre though they are, and these little extras form part of the pension we get.
All this while they get an attendance allowance of up to £300 per day plus expenses, many of them having been photographed taking the opportunity to take a good nap! These payments just happen to be free of tax and National Insurance, because they are not classed as being employed.
The basic state pension is now £129.20 per week. Contrast this with the average public sector salary of £36,679 or £705 per week and you start to see the difference. These public sector salaries were increased this year by 2.5 per cent, just the same as the basic pension.
If these figures were to increase by a similar percentage next time, it would see the pension increased by £3.23 while the public sector salary would increase by £17.63!
So the pensioner gets roughly the cost of a cup of coffee, while those in the public sector gain a good meal. Add to this the fact that those in the public sector get a much enhanced pension, which is largely funded by the public purse and it isn’t difficult to see who is better off.
And Lord True complains that we are getting too much?
Interestingly, figures published this week show that pensioners, in the first three months of this year, withdrew £936.2m via equity release schemes.
Much of this cash is being used to fund care in old age and, for the privilege, the interest charged is around five per cent.
Compare that to the one or two per cent interest we may get on any small amount saved! This means that very little is left to pass on to those left behind.
Lord True says that the cash saved by cutting pensioners’ ‘perks’ should be used to help the youngsters of today.
Well, in my experience, the majority of today’s youngsters are managing very well.
They certainly all have smart phones, tablets, etc. and at most weddings I have attended recently, the couples have lived together for some time, have got everything they need and certainly don’t want ‘hand-me-downs’, as we used to.
But then again, perhaps I shouldn’t complain, because, as I’m over 80, I get an enhanced pension payment of 25p per week. Yes, 25p! Any ideas what I should spend that princely sum on?