'wealthy pensioners urged to give up benefits'

(158 Posts)
mirry2 Sun 28-Apr-13 22:54:22

How wealthy is wealthy?

lottieandmia Sun 28-Apr-13 22:57:34

The problem with making pensioner benefits means tested is that some people who need them and are entitled won't apply for them at all.

I do think pensioners deserve protection. Some old people have no family to look after their interests.

Dawndonna Mon 29-Apr-13 10:08:40

As wealthy as IDS who, I am damn sure, isn't going to give up his commons expenses. Despite the fact that he really doesn't need them.

Startail Mon 29-Apr-13 10:14:11

I think the idiots might actually find that 'wealthy' pensioners already do a great deal of good with their spare money. Supporting their own DCs and GC, giving directly to charity or indirectly in petrol etc. doing voluntary work.

I suspect my DFs in the WI might like to tell IDS where to go!

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 10:15:43

I don't think it should be voluntary.

Any 'rich' pensioners who retire whilst earning 50k(the threshold for CB cuts) shouldn't be getting any benefits in the first place.

euwa Mon 29-Apr-13 10:25:10

Wouldn't be an unreasonable suggestion given the state of the country if they had been leading by example for at least a year! The cheek! Even though I am not, and unless a miracle occurs, never will be in a position to be considered a wealthy pensioner.

ChocolateCakePlease Mon 29-Apr-13 10:40:21

I suppose on the other hand they could say if you aim to work hard all your life, educate yourself and try to save you get penalised for it in retirement. Swings n roundabouts i guess.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 29-Apr-13 10:43:18

He wasn't 'urging' anyone just pointing out that if anyone wanted to hand back their winter fuel allowance or whatever there is the facility to do so. Heard him interviewed this morning.

shufflehopstep Mon 29-Apr-13 10:45:21

I saw a report presented by William G Stewart about 4 or 5 years ago talking about exactly this. He said that after years of working in television he and his wife had retired quite comfortably and didn't need the fuel allowance and wanted to give it back but there was no mechanism for doing it. They gave it to charity but I think there should be a system to allow people to give it back if they want to. I bet there are plenty of people out there who are fair and not greedy and would do it. There are so many who need it but there are also many who don't and they should be able to refuse it.

higgle Mon 29-Apr-13 10:47:42

I know Peter Stringfellow sent his back on the basis of his wealth - I suspect he doesn't like receiving anything that reminds him of his chronological age!

landofsoapandglory Mon 29-Apr-13 10:50:16

I don't think it should be voluntary, it should be compulsory.

Some pensioners do not need their WFA, TV license and bus pass, so they shouldn't receive them IMO. I am getting sick of hearing that they have paid in, so they are entitled to it! They haven't just paid in for their pensions, and it wasn't a savings account that they paid into.

Why should families who are having their tax credits cut, CB cut, housing benefit cut, DLA cut, be told they have to work longer, keep having their pay frozen, have to pay for these benefits? Look at all the people visiting food banks, it ain't pensioners!

skippedtheripeoldmango Mon 29-Apr-13 10:52:50

Seeing as 50% of the benefits budget from the DWP goes to pensioners I think the government should be making sure that only those who need additional help get it - everyone else is means tested.

SirChenjin Mon 29-Apr-13 10:53:44

I think there should be a mechanism for giving it back, yes, but don't agree it should be compulsory for all - I suspect the Govt's definition of wealthy is not the kind of wealthy I'm thinking about, so as usual the ones in the middle who have worked and saved will be hit hardest.

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 10:56:20

They haven't paid enough in for the NHS and their pensions anyway,we'll be footing the bill for the shortfall.

gazzalw Mon 29-Apr-13 10:57:13

I think that the current pensioners generation(s) have all lived thro' relative hardship in their lives, if only with rationing during WW2 and the aftermath. I do not think that they are money-grasping at all so am entirely confident that many will do the right thing in returning unneeded benefits.

By all means call on the well-off elderly (although quite what constitutes 'well-off' is anyone's guess) to give up their benefits but do the same for the well-off MPs who don't need to be penny-pinching about reclaiming everything on expenses.

I think it's a slightly silly suggestion, mainly because as Startail says many wealthy pensioners already do a lot for society, their community, and their families, for example giving to charity and supporting worthy causes. A pensioner I saw interviewed said she does already give her winter fuel allowance to charity, and I think that's a nice gesture that others could copy, I expect quite a few either do so, or give more than that to charity already. The other things such as a bus pass and TV license I can't really see people giving up and then going out of their way to pay for - and the rich probably don't often travel by bus anyway. I think it's really good that older people are helped to have some basic entertainment (TV) and the ability to get about more easily. This improves quality of life for many I'm sure.
If I was ever fortunate enough to be that rich I just don't think I would voluntarily go through the extra hassle of rescinding such benefits.I'd just do more for charity if I could. And if I needed a prescription, which let's face it is always due to ill health of some description, I'd be grateful that society was showing me some respect in my later years.

ValentineWiggins Mon 29-Apr-13 10:58:39

Actually there is a very simple way to do it - put it on the tax return. If you are a wealthy pensioner you will already be filling one in so just include it there. If you are then in the upper tax bracket the value if these things gets taken back in tax. No means testing forms or particularly extra paperwork.

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 11:10:11

I don't think voluntary would work,clearly many think they're entitled.

I also think poorer pensioners who never earned enough in low paid jobs to get a gold plated pension should be protected and given more.

Soooo if 50k is deemed as wealthy by DC for CB cuts anybody lucky enough to be on 50k pre retirement shouldn't be getting anything.

Either 50k is wealthy or it isn't.

shufflehopstep Mon 29-Apr-13 11:13:25

Means testing is always a tricky one as people in the middle often lose out. The report I saw said that (at the time) there were many MPs who were receiving it too and they should be the ones leading by example.

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 11:14:54

So how is it ok for middle income families to continuously lose out then?

Seems to me the definition of 'wealthy' changes to suit DC whenever he feels like protecting his core voters.

larry5 Mon 29-Apr-13 11:43:15

Dh is now a pensioner and is getting WFA and has a bus pass. He does not get a free TV licence as you have to be over 75 to get one. Dh has a fairly good state pension because of the amount of NI and graduated pension/serps etc. that he paid in over the years. We also have a small amount of savings.

Why should we not receive the WFA? We don't make much use of the free bus pass at the moment as bus fares here are very expensive but when I get my pension next year we will be using buses more to cut down on our expenses. By the way you have to apply for a bus pass so it only costs money if you use buses and most pensioners we know are still driving as it is easier to get around if you can afford to run a car.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 29-Apr-13 11:43:34

IDS was on telly this morning saying that he neither encouraged or discouraged pensioners to give up their benefits if they didn't need it. He said he was just answering a question, it's entirely up to the recipients of said benefits to do what they want with them, and there is a mechanism to pay back these benefits for their people who want to.

I can't see the problem.

I agree with there being some universal benefits, and I think old age is the right time to receive those.

infamouspoo Mon 29-Apr-13 11:53:53

I think WFA should be linked to pension tax credits then those who need it would get it.

MrsMarigold Mon 29-Apr-13 11:59:46

I think this is outrageous and pensioners should be entitled to benefits 'wealthy' or not. Although with the ageing population I agree that it is a problem we need to think about.

My DH reckons that there won't be any benefits by the time we go on pension so to enjoy a decent old age, our generation will need savings of at least £1million, (not tied up in your home either). It keeps us up at night a lot as we don't have those sort of savings and even if we work our socks off we won't.

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 12:00:27

So do I infamous.

newgirl Mon 29-Apr-13 12:01:57

People in their 60s now did not live through the war and the women I know have not paid taxes but have accrued wealth through husbands and property - two I'm thinking of live in 4 bed houses and go on several holidays each year. I think a sensible threshold - like the child benefit cut is completely fair.

infamouspoo Mon 29-Apr-13 12:06:09

Even my 80 yo mother, while living through the war, didnt 'fight' in it as she was a little girl. So the war thing isnt really relevant unless you are 100.

Whats wrong with linking it to PTC which the poorer pensioners get?

grimbletart Mon 29-Apr-13 12:11:02

As a pensioner I have never taken up my bus pass, my WFA has been given to charity for years (I trust charities, on the whole, to spend money more wisely than governments do) and I don't receive a free TV licence. I also, like many comfortably off pensioners, give a lot of money to charity plus a lot of time to society via voluntary work. I am typical of many of my friends of the same age. I don't have an air of entitlement. Those that do are a minority who represent the untypical end of a spectrum in the same way that younger entitled 'benefit scroungers' represent an untypical end of a spectrum.

When posters such as Squarepebbles say a certain class of pensioner should have no entitlements at all, they should also remember that these pensioners were of a generation that had none of the entitlements such as maternity leave that her generation feels it is entitled to.

Swings and and roundabouts.

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 12:11:17

My 80 year old Fil can't even rem the war(to the disappointment of all the grandchildren).

sherbetpips Mon 29-Apr-13 12:13:38

Squarepebble why is a pensioner who saved for there retirement and contributed to the overall welfare pot any less entitled to benefits than one who contributed little and did not save? I dont disagree that wealthy pensioners dont need it but its nothing to do with entitlement and therefore surely has to be voluntary?

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 12:14:42

A certain class should get no entitlements?hmm

I think I mentioned that families on 50k get nothing so neither should pensioners earning that before retirement. If as a class the younger generation shouldn't get anything neither should pensioners.

We should all be singing from the same hymn sheet.

Re maternity don't you need a job to get maternityconfused

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 12:18:32

Sherbet because many will have worked hard but been paid peanuts. Many won't have received golden plated pensions such as those we're talking about- neither will we.

Doesn't mean we will have worked less hard.

We'll be paying a lot more in but won't get benefits,probably little pension,no CB by the time the Tories have finished and will probably have to pay for some kind of extra health provision whilst working longer.

We'll have to poke up with it so not sure why today's pensioners shouldn't.

Bramshott Mon 29-Apr-13 12:20:04

Hmm - I wonder what the responses would be if IDS had suggested that those earning over a certain level shouldn't claim the maternity pay they're entitled to??

[playing devil's advocate to an extent, but I do think it's interesting!]

yetanotherworry Mon 29-Apr-13 12:20:34

MrsMarigold, I have that worry as well. II also realise that I am in a vulnerable position as SAHM with a small public sector pension behind me. I am hoping that I can re-start my career but its not one that's easy to egt back into so in the meanwhile I am siphoning off some off our household budget every month to at least have some savings.

I don't see that problem with means testing pensioner benefits such as WFA and free bus passes. However, free bus passes will encourage many of the old folk to use public transport instead of driving with failing eyesight and increasing dementia.

Also, how do you define wealthy? My Mil looks wealthy - when we were living overseas, she came to visit 3 or 4 times a year. Her income if fairly low (less than 1000/month) but she lives in a cheap area of the country, bought a small very cheap house, only puts her heating on when really needed and tends to wear her coat inside, buys cheap food and no alcohol or treats to keep her expenditure as low as possible to be able to have her holidays. Yet she has friends who think her pension must be huge - they have queried how she can do so much on a pension that is similar to theirs! Should she be less entitled than her friends who struggle to pay their bills, but live in larger houses which are warm, they buy more food and do have treats such as chocolate and alcohol.

grimbletart Mon 29-Apr-13 12:26:53

Re maternity don't you need a job to get maternity

Indeed you do need a job to get maternity leave Squarepebbles as in I am now a pensioner, I had a job for 50 years, I had children I had NO maternity leave entitlement.

I am merely making the point that before a certain class of pensioners is criticised for getting benefits, younger people who are now entitled to benefits that did not even exist when pensioners were younger should, perhaps, pause and think before they make assumptions about pensioners and what they do or don't deserve.

This from a pensioner who does not take her entitlements and does not resent the younger generation their benefits.

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 12:29:27

But the same class of youngsters(the middle) don't get anything and have already lost CB,tuition fees for their children that pensioners had.confused

Wishiwasanheiress Mon 29-Apr-13 12:31:04

The benefits Oaps get have been paid into the system across lives. So, suggesting getting rid is ridiculous for the simple reason of cutting off our own noses to spite our faces! Do u think u might need this stuff when old? Possibly? Right, then lets keep them.

Once cut it will not return. Do u think ur wealthy enough? Will ur kids be? I don't, we won't be, they def wont so I will not support cutting now. That's over ANY party.

sherbetpips Mon 29-Apr-13 12:33:36

The problem will solve itself of course as you say squarepebbles as there simply wont be a pot to claim from when we get there.
I still think the tories are doing the right thing though, crap as it is we couldnt just carry on doling it out. Its the same cycle government one spends, the other cuts and saves up, one spends, the other cuts and saves up, and always it shall be. crappy politics but GB has never behaved any differently.

Wishiwasanheiress Mon 29-Apr-13 12:34:00

Square u do need a job to qualify. U have to have worked 24 wks of a year. I know because my firm made me redundant. I had 23.5wks so didn't qualify.

Frustrating much?

Wishiwasanheiress Mon 29-Apr-13 12:34:27

For mat leave pay should have been in that sentence somewhere sorry...,

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 12:34:45

Erm. I don't want benefits for the rich for my generation either at the expense of the NHS if as a nation we can't afford them.

We can't.

"People in their 60s now did not live through the war and the women I know have not paid taxes but have accrued wealth through husbands and property - two I'm thinking of live in 4 bed houses and go on several holidays each year. I think a sensible threshold - like the child benefit cut is completely fair."

But this is anecdotal based on a couple of people you know.

What about attendance allowance? Someone could be on a very good pension (middle income - this may be the combination of the pensions of a married couple say - both of whom have worked/paid in for full pensions entitlement) but be extremely disabled and need to pay for significant amounts of care, additional heating (if still at home) etc. This can be extremely expensive. Should they not be able to afford appropriate care? Not all pensioners are healthy and swanning around on cruises! It isn't always appropriate to sell a home to pay for care either as sometimes one partner is disabled, but the other isn't and still needs to live in the home!

ComposHat Mon 29-Apr-13 12:39:15

I agree a 50k cut off seems fair for pensioners getting extras like WFA, bus passes, TV licences etc. seems like a fair, logical and consistent cut off point.

What I think is interesting is that IDS is asking them to consider donating the money to charity, rather than introduce legislation to remove benefits from them. Can you imagine the government rather than introducing the spare bedroom tax, asking social housing tenants to chuck a few quid in a Shelter collecting tin or promise to buy the odd copy of the Big Issue?

It is also interesting the rhetoric around working age benefit claimants, the government isn't shy about labelling them as shirkers despite evidence to the contrary, yet it doesn't label wealthy pensioners helping themselves to benefits they don't need without a second thought as greedy free loaders in the same way.

Is it a mere coincidence that wealthy pensioners are disproportionately likely to vote and vote Tory?

landofsoapandglory Mon 29-Apr-13 12:40:59

When you pay into the pot, you are not paying into a savings account for your retirement. You are paying for the services you use all through your life.

The pensioners will already have taken a lot out. They will have used the NHS, the roads, the emergency services, paid towards the Armed Forces, Social Services, Education, all the local authority services like refuse collection, libraries etc. So the "they've paid in all their lives" argument is weak IMO.

Wishiwasanheiress Mon 29-Apr-13 12:41:15

I don't think means testing helps either. It doesn't look at the feckless or silly. How would u build a system that did? U obviously cannot. U fairly should not. If u have paid into any system over a life time u should be able to claim for the benefits of the day ur able to. I dislike this idea of introducing guilt to encourage people not to claim.

IDS is plainly a fool. They seem intent on losing the next election completely. I really don't get it, unless we are in such a shocker of a situation they would prefer labour in power instead so they don't have to sort stuff out. It's very depressing....

yetanotherworry Mon 29-Apr-13 12:41:20

The government is doing something about our pension provision when we are older - its increasing retirement age and increasing the pension contributions for public sector staff.

I am in a similar situation to yourself (similar income/children/SAHM) and whilst I can see that you're upset about CB reductions we don't need it, its nice to have but not essential. We never actually claimed our full 'entitlement' because of living overseas so maybe that makes me see how unnecessary it is. However I also don't see why just because I have had something taken away, then an equivalent should be taken away from someone else. Its like listening to my kids argue who deserves the last sweet in the packet!

yetanotherworry Mon 29-Apr-13 12:42:03

Sorry, that was meant for Squarepepples

Viviennemary Mon 29-Apr-13 12:44:05

I think it's a total nerve. All those millionaire Tories still claiming MP's expenses. Do they need them. No of course they don't. They should had them over before starting on pensioners. Pigs will fly first.

My parents receive the WFA but don't need it, they give it all back plus much more to charity. My DM did ask about refusing it/giving it back and was told it would cost more in admin/bureaucracy than it was worth.

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 12:50:51

So yet if we don't need CB whilst raising 3 kids on a tight budget thanks to house prices( I actually dispute that as we do)why exactly do my inlaws who spend best part of 20k a year on holidays alone need benefits?

Sorry if I'm being dense but I don't get the logic.

lainiekazan Mon 29-Apr-13 12:53:40

The problem is the cut off point.

It's all very well to point to extremely wealthy celebrity pensioners who get winter fuel allowance and bus passes and the like. Of course it's ludicrous that money should be wasted in this way.

But any cuts will hit those of us (and it will be us before any of this is implemented) in the middle. It would be hugely galling to see someone who had never worked riding round on the bus for free and turning up their heating, whilst a modest pension might disqualify you from such benefits.

juneau Mon 29-Apr-13 12:53:56

Everyone should get their basic state pension. If this isn't generous enough or in line with other first world countries' pensions (which is what a lot of pensioners are arguing), then it should be increased, but no one who is comfortably off should be getting WFA, a bus pass, or a TV licence. I find it absolutely absurd that some of the most comfortably off people in this country, such as the pensioners in my family, are receiving 'benefits' of this kind. If the rest of us are having to tighten our belts and lose our universal benefits, so should they.

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 12:57:59

Laine but the cuts hurt those in the middle for younger generations.

We have to suck it up.

Thurlow Mon 29-Apr-13 12:59:30

It's a difficult one. My mum gets a state pension. She has never worked (SAHM) and has no savings, so if you look at her on her own, she looks as though she needs the pension. But actually my parents are comfortable - own their house, dad still working while claiming an industry pension. But they are comfortable now, they might not always be.

TBF, she tends to generally pass on her pension to me and my brother for our DC.

newgirl Mon 29-Apr-13 13:16:43

Of course if a pensioner needs their funds as a carer/disabled then surely that is part of the means testing.

Yes I had state maternity for my pregnancies which was a very small amount (lasting 16 months total?) and far less than a pension which can be paid out for 20+ years.

newgirl Mon 29-Apr-13 13:17:39

Of course if a pensioner needs their funds as a carer/disabled then surely that is part of the means testing.

Yes I had state maternity for my pregnancies which was a very small amount (lasting 16 months total?) and far less than a pension which can be paid out for 20+ years.

Also agree maternity benefits should be means tested.

infamouspoo Mon 29-Apr-13 13:18:50

Rich pensioners are still getting 'benefits' even if they lose WFA. Its called the NHS, police force, etc etc

lainiekazan Mon 29-Apr-13 13:26:06

It's going to be crap when I'm a pensioner if I have to pay before dialling 999... (luckily ??!! my pension forecast is £0 )

TimothyClaypoleLover Mon 29-Apr-13 13:27:45

squarepebbles - your inlaws sound like mine. They go on 6 plus holidays a year. They also live in a huge house and gloat all the time about the fact they receive the winter fuel allowance when they don't need it. Makes me and my DH sick so based on my inlaws alone I think the winter fuel allowance should be only given to those that actually need it.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 29-Apr-13 13:27:51

I think its disgusting to even ask.
Pensioners deserve their money and shouldn't have to pay it back. perhaps money could be saved in other areas.

yetanotherworry Mon 29-Apr-13 13:47:52

I think your in-laws are not the majority of pensioners though so its unfair to treat all pensioners as thought hey are wealthy. If your in-laws decided to move and took on a huge mortgage would you then think it was okay for them to have benefits?

I agree that the implementation of the CB cut is unfair but don't think its going to be an issue for much longer. CB has been under threat since before I had my kids (oldest is 10) and I think this is the first step of its withdrawal (whichever government is elected next time).

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 14:21:03

Yet they won't have to as they benefited from the 80s property boom and paid off their mortgage which wasn't big in the first place yonks ago.

The full CB they had alone was worth 30k off their mortgage.

It's sad that younger generations are having to pay big mortgages for shoebox size houses if they're lucky and can't put anything by for their retirement as they have to cover the shortfall left by previous generations whilst enduring pay freezes etc.

yetanotherworry Mon 29-Apr-13 14:31:32

I know but its all swings and roundabouts... things go up and down all the time. As a society its unfair that we decide that because we're not on the upward-ride, that everyone else should join us at the bottom. You're thinking its unfair because you feel that you should have a better lifestyle on what is a decent wage (I think the same). This isn't your in-laws fault - they didn't create the housing boom - this was due to increased demand/population.

Presumably when your in-laws die, you stand to inherit some money. Would you think it was fair if the next government took all assets on death and out those into the pot for current generation. I bet all the people who don't have elderly relatives would think this is a fair move.

expatinscotland Mon 29-Apr-13 14:41:04

Don't make it voluntary. Link it to those claiming Pension Tax Credit.

It is not a penalty to not get sweeties from the government. A penalty would be not paying out a state pension at all if you have a private one over a certain amount of money. The idea that an individual somehow deserves money handouts from that state just for being a law-abiding citizen is ludicrous and entitled.

But since it's IDS saying it, it's all bunkum just like everything else he spraffs.

TimothyClaypoleLover Mon 29-Apr-13 14:44:27

yetanotherworry - I know not all pensioners are wealthy. What I am saying is those like my inlaws should not receive WFA. Obviously those that need it should have it.

In the same way that we don't let everyone claim other benefits we should not be allowing every pensioner in the country to claim WFA just because they are pensioners. This country's benefit system is a complete joke and needs overhauling.

expatinscotland Mon 29-Apr-13 14:47:24

'When you pay into the pot, you are not paying into a savings account for your retirement. You are paying for the services you use all through your life.'

Exactly! The price of a peaceful society with excellent infrastructure that allows its residents to go about their business and make a lawful living as they see fit is enormous. Why is that not enough if you are earning well? Gotta be given sweeties from the state that you don't need like a child.

That mentality blows my mind.

Isthiscorrect Mon 29-Apr-13 15:09:32

Not all pensioners on a good pension benefit. My mother now 80, was a single parent, she educated held and became a teacher. Yes she got a good pension and yes she did benefit from property, but she has a house worth 120k and about 5k savings. She hasn't used the Nhs since I was born, more than 50 years ago, with the exception of the flu jab, but now she has to sell her house to pay for care. So IMHO she should have spent every penny. She did give to charity and do voluntary work, she gave back her wfa, she did use her bus pass (a lot). So she is your middle class wealthy but will die with nothing.

Isthiscorrect Mon 29-Apr-13 15:10:32

*herself not held

handcream Mon 29-Apr-13 15:15:50

I still go back to how does someone become 'wealthy' - is it someone who saves and doesnt blow their money, who is careful with their decision making, be it the number of children they have or whether they have lots of nights out drinking and smoking etc?

Do they decide to work and consequently have a state and private pension. Of course you will get more in retirement if you work. It would be bonkers if you didnt!

I am actually surprised that people who arent working still get NI credits paid for by people who are working who are actually the most vocal on this.

And Square - you are sounding very silly. You claim your PIL's are spending £20k on holidays yet your FIL was an electrician. You clearly have a big chip on your shoulder and probably very jealous of what you think he has. Yet - you arent working yourself......

ICBINEG Mon 29-Apr-13 15:36:24

sounds like the only way to redress the balance is to get the youth vote out.

When all sectors of society vote equally we will all get our voices heard equally (yeah right but I can dream can't I)....

handcream Mon 29-Apr-13 15:46:49

I agree IcBineg. Everyone should use their vote. There are lots on here saying that the pensioners vote more than the rest of us. Well, use your vote and lets stop moaning. People will vote for whatever is good for THEM so lets get out there....

dreamingofsun Mon 29-Apr-13 15:49:51

i don't see why pensioners should be excluded from the current state of cuts. Obviously for essential services, where people can't afford them the state should provide things, but if its non essential and the person can fund it themselves then why not?

my retired neighbours live in large houses, run expensive cars and often have several properties - i don't see why they should be excluded from any cuts just because they are old. this sounds ageist to me which i thought was illegal? Obviously the pension they have paid into via NI is a different matter.

Lavenderhoney Mon 29-Apr-13 16:17:10

And the saving will go where? Because it sure as anything won't be redistributed to more needy pensioners, whatever the government say.

I don't think pensioners shoud be penalised on a means test.

However I don't think pensioners should be penalised in their tax return either.

Perhaps it would be better to increase the % of tax the utilities have to pay, with a slight reduction that takes into account discounts for pensioners if they attract a lot with good discounts for them.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 29-Apr-13 16:19:29

If you linked WFA to pension credit, it would once again be those in the middle that were treated the most unfairly. The wealthier wouldn't miss it, the poorer would see no difference, yet those who had paid into a pension from a mediocre wage would end up no better off than those who had saved nothing. It would create a disincentive to paying into a pension and saving for the future, which is the exact opposite of what the government needs to encourage.

cathan Mon 29-Apr-13 16:19:51

I don't think pensioners should be exempt from the current cuts. Not all pensioners need the extra help and I would prefer to see it given to those who really need it. Pension credit already exists for those pensioners in real need. Why not target the other benefits (like winter fuel allowance) to pensioners who qualify for Pension Credit. In my opinion that would, be much fairer, not only to them, but to current taxpayers who are feeling the pinch in many ways. It would also mean the benefits could be higher and so make a real difference to an elderly person who is too worried to heat their home properly. Similarly, why should wealthy pensioners get a free bus pass? They don't need it - someone on a low wage who has to travel to work would gain much more benefit. The social security system is supposed to be a safety net for the needy - not cream for fat cats!

ComposHat Mon 29-Apr-13 16:23:03

As a Labour party supporter and member, I am worried that hte party isn't articulating an alternative to the cuts and would hope that they'd take a line that wealthy pensioners should have these unneccesary perks cut.

A clear way of demonstrating that the party leadership are on the side of the majority, not the wealthy (as they claim they claim to be) and use the money saved for a concrete policy end - such as building more affordable houses/improving infrastructure, that would create jobs.

merrymouse Mon 29-Apr-13 16:24:51

The problem is that when the current generation of pensioners (e.g. my parents) became the first people to benefit from the welfare state, (having spent their schooldays singing merry songs in air raid shelters), it was supposed to be cradle to grave, each paying in according to their ability (tax) and receive according to needs (winter fuel allowance, university education, child benefit, dla).

Higher income pensioners also pay higher tax. I don't really begrudge them £300, and I am very happy that OAP's who may not be able to drive safely can get on a bus. The reality is that by the time you take into account the cost of care, home adaptations and increased need for heating, being old is expensive.

(And we should still have universal child benefit and as far as I can see all this messing around with DLA is short sighted and on ideological grounds, not economic.)

cleoowen Mon 29-Apr-13 16:33:03

I think their benefits should be means tested. Everyone else has their benefits means,tested so why not them too. I think lots of pensioners are sitting on money and do not spend a great deal. Don't see why they should automatically get it if they don't need it. My parents are both pensioners and my mum stopped working when I was 7, so 25 years ago. They get bus passes and barely use them and don't,need them.

We,re in hard times economically and cannot afford this anymore.

alemci Mon 29-Apr-13 16:42:43

If it is means tested, the cut off level will probably be very low and the so called 'wealthy' pensioners probably won't be particularly wealthy but may have been frugal and scrimped and saved. they may have a small pension and own their house.

It will be frustrating for the ones who are just over the threshold and would have been better off not having bothered to save and frittered it away.

Perhaps it is good if they get a free bus pass. you know you get some pensioners who drive who are a liability.

Pleasesleep Mon 29-Apr-13 16:44:55

Wealthy pensioners should have their benefits removed. It shouldn't be voluntary.

It's nothing to do with respect or "doing things for the community".
If that's the case then a) why do job seekers / working families have their benefits removed / cut? Do we not respect them?
B) if I'm rich but volunteer why cant I claim benefits if I'm not a pensioner?

dotnet Mon 29-Apr-13 17:19:21

Cameron would love to get his grubby paws on a bit of extra loot so he can do favours to his favoured friends, no doubt.

The priority should be getting the big wheeler dealer companies to pay proper rates of tax.

That would bring in some really serious money. Starbucks, Vodaphone, Google et al are salting away far, far more ill gotten gains than are even the most prosperous among the retired population.

ComposHat Mon 29-Apr-13 17:28:00

sounds like the only way to redress the balance is to get the youth vote out.
Well surely the best way to do that is to present policies that appeal to youthful voters who have born the brunt of the downturn (the youth unemployment rate is horific) I don't blame young people for not voting (Withdrawing in disgust rather than apathy, I'd guess) given that all parties seem to have ignored them, at the expense of the elderly and middle-aged.

merrymouse Mon 29-Apr-13 17:34:02

Pensioners receive winter fuel benefit because cold weather kills old people.

The fewer benefits tax payers receive the less taxes they are willing to pay. Certainly there are many people in this country who would quite happily have as little to do with the state as possible, funding the education and healthcare of their families privately and never darkening the door of a library or taking a bus - means test as much as possible, reduce benefits to an absolute minimum, leave individuals to sink or swim with as little state 'interference' as possible.

Advocates of wider spread means testing should be careful what they wish for.

When the only people receiving benefits are 'they', 'they' tend to receive very little.

ComposHat Mon 29-Apr-13 17:38:41

Yes merry but if your earnings are in excess of £50k it is not a case of not being able to afford the heating on. Surely a winter fuel payment is designed to help pensioners for whom it is a case of not being able to eat or heat their homes. Not to pay for my wealthy Uncle to spend on his Spanish villa (where he spends most of his winters) or generate more 'play money' for wealthy pensioners.

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 17:39:14

Hand cream

I worked right up to having my children,have had 4 and a half years off,I am currently job hunting and will be working up to my 80s.

I have worked all my life(mid 40s).

My period at home facilitated dp to do the job he does and is work imvho.

My fil was an electrical scientist as mentioned on the thread you're referring to.

You seem to enjoy dissecting my life and berating the fact I'm a sahm. Going by your logic anybody who has had a short spell off for whatever reason which will include most pensioners aren't a valid member of society.

I think you are the one with a chip to be frank.

RedToothBrush Mon 29-Apr-13 17:42:25

Unfortunately, the trouble with means testing benefits of a certain nature, is simply the cost of administering it and policing it.

If you had to means test certain benefits there would end up being less money in the pot after this was done and it would end up translating into less money being available to those who need in the end!

Its counterintuitive I know, but think about all the paper work that would need to go into each area since each of these benefits are not centralised and run by different groups. In one corner you have tv licensing, in another bus passes, in another energy. And then you corner how much people get for each benefit. It very quickly end up being a money pit.

And if you did decide it would be wise to bring all of these under one umbrella, you would need a massive investment to completely overhaul the entire system.

At which point politely asking people to voluntarily give up their benefits seems, ironically, the most cost effective - and perhaps the only way - to deal with the problem.

Trouble is, people are greedy, and you are fighting a sense of having earned the right to claim many of these if someone has spent their life contributing to the system. I don't really see how you can break that, without making claiming benefits something to be ashamed of (which shouldn't be allowed to happen as this equally ends of disproportionally making the most vulnerable and most needy at the greatest risk).

If someone can come up with a solution that actually isn't going to have these negative problems, I'm sure someone out there would love to hear from you.

RedToothBrush Mon 29-Apr-13 17:44:11

*And then you look at how much people get for each benefit

(not corner).

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 17:46:17

Red people have suggested linking it to pension tax credits.

mirry2 Mon 29-Apr-13 17:48:48

Why are people having a pop at pensioners? Most have worked all their lives and paid into pension funds.

I don't understand the figure of £50,000 earnings that's being bandied about by some posters. Most pensioners don't earn and just because they may have earned that sum while working doesn't make them wealthy pensioners.

Myorignal post asked what we mean by wealthy. is it a pension of £50000 pa and if so is that £50000 for each person or £50000 for a couple?

merrymouse Mon 29-Apr-13 17:49:44

Because, as I said before, if you expect 'from each according to their ability', the converse is 'to each according to their need'. If the people giving aren't also the people getting, pretty soon they decide that giving isn't all it's cracked up to be, and then you have a 2 tier society where the rich look after themselves and the poor do very badly. (See American health system).

I believe that all OAPS should get their cataracts done on the NHS and they should all be entitled to the winter fuel allowance.

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 17:50:57

50k is when CB starts to get cut as DC figures that means you're wealthy so clearly anybody earning 50k prior to retirement are wealthy.

ComposHat Mon 29-Apr-13 17:51:03

50k is when child benefit starts to taper off - so there's a logic to applying the same logic to 'extra' benefits paid to pensioners.

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 17:52:24

'Is' and crossed posts.smile

merrymouse Mon 29-Apr-13 17:53:36

(That was to composhat btw.)

merrymouse Mon 29-Apr-13 17:57:04

I would reinstate universal child benefit, for same reason that I believe in universal winter fuel allowance.

I think many people at the top of the Tory party have lived their entire lives with minimal contact with the state and ideologically see it as surplus to requirements.

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 18:02:05

I agree with you on that one Merry.smile

mirry2 Mon 29-Apr-13 18:17:01

Squarepebbles people who earn £50000pa before retirement wont get anywhere near a £50000pa pension

alemci Mon 29-Apr-13 18:18:25

and I agree too Merry.

noddyholder Mon 29-Apr-13 18:19:14

I think they should greedy buggers

mirry2 Mon 29-Apr-13 18:28:07

I've started discussion of the daygrin

Squarepebbles Mon 29-Apr-13 18:29:13

Did you only just notice?grin

dreamingofsun Mon 29-Apr-13 18:40:13

merrymouse - on your logic i can give up paying tax then? As we are higher rate tax payers and get very little back. surely OAPs should be no different?

minderjinx Mon 29-Apr-13 18:46:06

I think there would be some sense in reducing/removing benefits to pensioners earning 50K plus in retirement, but I don't know how you can justify means testing on the basis of what people used to earn. If that were the case, nobody who had once had a good job would be eligible for any help if they then became unemployed, or sick for that matter.

merrymouse Mon 29-Apr-13 18:54:03

Clearly you, and most other adults over the age of 18 can vote for an MP who will support legislation to reduce taxes.

minderjinx Mon 29-Apr-13 18:54:30

...and that would be 50K of retirement income each of course, in the case of pensioner couples, if we are following the universally acclaimed CB model . I can't imagine that there are huge numbers of pensioners on that sort of money. It's probably cheaper and easier to ask those to give it to charity than to set up a massively complicated system to work out who they are.

mirry2 Mon 29-Apr-13 18:55:49

I agree with minderjinx

Snog Mon 29-Apr-13 19:12:45

I am happy for pensioners to carry on receiving benefits.
This is a distraction from the real issues - as are most arguments about benefits imo.
I'm not happy for huge companies to pay almost no tax whilst driving out of business their competitors who do pay tax.
And I'm not happy for the super rich to contribute so very little or for people to receive obscene bonuses and golden handshakes while their companies do badly. Goes double in the public sector

ComposHat Mon 29-Apr-13 19:16:44

I agree snog but these things aren't an either/or, tax dodging companies, greedy bankers and absurdly wealthy pensioners benefiting from 'perks' (I'm not saying there's a moral equivilence) should all be addressed in the interest of fairness.

handcream Mon 29-Apr-13 19:19:10

My DH and I will have worked 40 years each. There is no way we will have a pension of £100k between us!

We are both higher rate tax payers (so are paying SAMP's contributions) but I dont know anyone who will get £100k in pension between them unless perhaps doctors both working full time in the NHS.

Surely no one on this thread is thinking if for example you earn £70K you will get a £70K pension? Maximum I believe is 2/3rds having done 40 years or so working.

mirry2 Mon 29-Apr-13 19:27:18

Yes, handcream, I wonder if some people need educating about pensions.

merrymouse Mon 29-Apr-13 19:47:08

It's a complete can of worms. A particularly wiley pensioner could be claiming winter fuel allowance, child benefit, and, if old enough, married couples allowance AND be spending their winters cruising and still have enough money left over for a stannah stair lift.

Pleasesleep Mon 29-Apr-13 20:13:28

I don't think people are suggesting cutting based on previous salary, but on pension / income. Many old people have a lot of investment income etc as well as a final salary pension. Obviously for those that don't then they would continue to receive benefits. I think 50,000 is a fairly generous figure to cut it off at considering they have no dependants!!

Fwiw I agree in general with what merrymouse was saying re means testing developing an us and them attitude BUT we cannot and should not force the young / families / work force to bear the brunt of the benefits cuts. Especially as there is a lot of evidence that the elderly are at least in part responsible for the cost of housing being so high.
They have also enjoyed pensions and benefits that the people working today cannot hope to achieve.

Viviennemary Mon 29-Apr-13 20:42:53

I think very wealthy pensioners are few and far between. Most people only have a relatively modest private pension if any at all. Modest meaning under £20,000 per year. And a lot don't get anywhere near that.

mirry2 Mon 29-Apr-13 21:02:44

Pleasesleep' can you explain how pensioners are partly responsible for the high cost of housing?
You are aware, aren't you, that final salary pensions are on average about £4-6000 a year - so hardly rolling in it. Plus I'd love to know what investments are giving pensionsers such a high return on their savings.

Pensioners get something like £200 a year fuel allowance, a £10 bonus at Christmas and a bus pass - so not a lot.

2old2beamum Mon 29-Apr-13 21:58:22

Have not read all posts but as OAP's we are just above the Pension Credit threshhold. We are in receipt of CTC our 2 youngest get generous CTC and CB. They both get DLA so that puts us financially in a better situation than most OAP's but we work bloody hard.
Back to the point we do not "need" WFA or bus passes (can't get 2 DC's wheelchairs on a bus) But buggered if I will give it back...it goes to the homeless

ChocolateCakePlease Mon 29-Apr-13 21:58:59

Anyone who thinks if you earn 50k whilst working will mean you will get the same in retirement is just plain ignorant. My dh is self employed, has been paying into a private pention for year and is being trually fucked. The return is not viable to actually keep it going, it is that bad he is thinking of buying to let as an alternative for his retirement.

So do not assume before you actually know what you are talking about.

ChocolateCakePlease Mon 29-Apr-13 22:00:16

Paying in for years not a year.

ChocolateCakePlease Mon 29-Apr-13 22:02:08

I blame my phone for spelling

TartinaTiara Mon 29-Apr-13 22:56:03

So, anyone who earns £50k before retiring shouldn't get any benefits? Does this include the state pension? And is that £50k just before retiring, or anyone who's ever earned £50k?

God, the bollocks people talk about pensions, and expect us to take them seriously....

ChocolateCakePlease Tue 30-Apr-13 07:49:56

Tartina I think some people think you will get 50k pension if you earn that before tiring therefore will not need a bus pass or a wfa. Alot of people get screwed in a private pension that is if they can afford to pay into one and I do not know about the public sector but I doubt they will be getting a golden handshake either. The days of a pay off are long gone. People talk bollocks.

TartinaTiara Tue 30-Apr-13 08:31:25

ChocolateCakePlease, I agree - most people under about 45/50 will be relying on the state pension, or on savings. They won't be getting a massive pension from their employer or any private pension. They'll need the state pension to be there, and they'll probably need all the benefits they're now saying should be taken away from current pensioners. Divide and rule. But the thing is, a lot of people over that age won't have a massive private pension either, and the vast majority of current pensioners aren't exactly coining it. Yes, make sure that NI is charged on earnings, even for pensioners and yes, make sure that pensioners have the same tax rates/tax allowances as the rest of the population (tax rates are already the same, tax allowances shortly to become so).

But this debate does seem to have the nasty stink of ageism about it, and frankly, a fair bit of resentment about some posters' own parents/PILs, and the quality of the debate (about who should pay in/who's entitled to take what out of the pot generally, not just in these threads) might well be improved if people would just educate themselves a bit before ranting on.

mirry2 Tue 30-Apr-13 08:33:49

I've never known anyone get a pay off in the public sector, apart from the statutory redundancy pay off that everyone in the private and public sector is entitled to, which is currently a weeks wages upto about £400 for every year you've worked there (with a ceiling of about £5000). I haven't got time to check my figures but that gives you a rough idea.

Only people in top positions have a better redundancy pay off.

wreckitralph Tue 30-Apr-13 08:35:41

I remember my father leaving the house at 0500 and returning anytime between 8 and 10 pm at night, he worked 6 days a week. We didn't have loads of money when we where young and I believe he once had a nervous breakdown when he was out of work for a while. My Dad stopped working when he was 70 as he had his own small business and he could carry on working. I remember him telling once that he paid over 1,000 a week in tax (income and for his company which was basically him). Now my Dad is retired he tells me he gets the top state pension. He goes on nice holidays and buys all his food from M&S. Do I think my Dad should hand back some of his state pension/ benefits - NO WAY!! Anyway, it is not a benefit, he put in way more than he gets out and we should be giving our elderly free bus passes to keep them mobile and social. They are treated piss poor as it is compared to other countries.

Pensioners these days didn't have the access to benefits that we did and put in much more than they take out so I think we should leave them alone.

It really irks me that this government is going after pensioners, SAHM's and those physically unable to work whose lives are improved by the small extra income they receive to make themselves more independent. They need to focus on getting people back to work and quashing bogus benefit claims and NHS waste before they go after the people mentioned above.

Erebus Tue 30-Apr-13 08:55:47

My dad was a middle manager in an electronics company, (8am to 5.30pm job).

He retired in 1990 aged 57. He received £70,000 as lump sum and a pension that is still paying my now widowed mum £500 a month.

My mum has only ever done what you might call 'pin money' jobs. She stopped working her last job, 15 hours a week, when she was 60. She's now 80. She, in addition to the above gets full state pension, a SERPS ('top-up') pension they were able and allowed to add to plus £5000 a year from a compulsory government pension dad had to pay into when they were working abroad for the UK government for 8 years in their 20s and 30s. She reckons her pre-tax income is £17,000 a year (and ticks like a 2 bob watch about paying tax!).

She owns the 4 bedroom house she lives in, runs a car and holidays well. In winter we refer to her house as Club Tropicana as it's so hot in there!

I do not begrudge her this, and it all means I don't have to worry about her aged care costs should she prove to be mortal.. but she no more needs a WFA or free bus pass than flying to the moon, by her own admission, but 'it's nice to get something back, isn't it?'....

My chief source of irritation is personal: She really thinks I'm irresponsible in going out to work as I'm 'not thinking of the family'. 'You younger people want it all, these days!' -what, like the ability to pay my gas bill? And help pay for my DC's college fees, come the day? Or cash towards their house deposit? Or the health-care 'gap fee' that I predict is no more than 5 years away?

MY tuppence worth is I would be far more accepting of my wage freeze, loss of CB, increased retirement age, lower pension pay out if we were indeed all in this together, but, as my mother gleefully points out, there's no way Cameron would risk upsetting his well-to-do, MC staunch grey vote by making them feel any pain! Excluding them from the cut-backs is brazenly and purely political.

wreckitralph Tue 30-Apr-13 09:06:44

I don't wholeheartedly disagree that they could take a bit of a haircut on their benefits. But seriously, don't go after those who have paid in all their lives. Go after the ones who don't want to work. Perhaps I am a bit biased as I grew up on an estate where most of the people were out of work by their own choice. Seriously, I l know people who are in their early 50's and they have NEVER had a job for longer than a week. I know people who were unemployed when I was a kid and they still are. They don't live in some sleepy seaside town whose fishing industry has collapsed, they live in a big city.

Underherthumb Tue 30-Apr-13 09:18:07

I think this is truly shocking - legalized theft.

Basically, we are moving towards a taxation system where the more you contribute to the pot the less you receive when you retire. How this is supposed to motivate people or encourage self-reliance is beyond me.

Reminds me of the 'fair share' discussion where everyone carefully avoids justifying or putting numbers to what is fair.

Fully agree that we are staring at a massive black hole in pension funds. However, letting politicians of any persuasion (let's not forget Gordon Browns massive pension pot raid a few years back) manage our retirement money seems guaranteed to annoy around half the contributors.

I'd follow Norway and have an independent sovereign wealth fund where the proceeds service the nations pension payments. Since the board wouldn't be tied to an election cycle their outlook would be longer term. It seems a much better use of QE as well; rather than propping up the banks you invest in infrastructure and property with a long term return (creating jobs in the meantime).

I agree with MrsMarigold and reckon there won't be much to go around when we retire. I'm more worried about what will happen to DD's generation though.

Erebus Tue 30-Apr-13 09:19:38

But, the point I made wreckit is that really, my mother hasn't 'paid in all her life'! Dad did his share, if working from 18-57 is considered that. Were he still with us, his 'paying-in' would now be paying out to two pensioners, effectively.

Again, it's the sums that matter: If a government can neatly draw a line between one person and another when it comes to child tax credit (or do I mean child benefit?!) disability benefits, or out-of-work benefits, why does it feel 'unable' to draw a line between a needy pensioner and a not-needy one?

Erebus Tue 30-Apr-13 09:20:40

Norway has a small, homogeneous population and huge oil reserves relative to ours.

Underherthumb Tue 30-Apr-13 09:26:39

@Erebus: Err... assuming Scotland doesn't go it's own way we have a fair bit of oil up there.

Besides, It's not just about natural resources - it's about investment. Council houses, motorways (toll), commercial land development, airports, power stations and so on.

I'd think it better to use QE for infrastructure where the proceeds are ringfenced for our future than on a weak increase in capital ratios at our beloved banks.

Aside from anything else, the latter is a pure inflationary measure from which most pensioners have no defense.

dreamingofsun Tue 30-Apr-13 11:09:26

underthethumb - but its always been the case that the more tax you put in the less you get back - because you can help yourself and don't need government support. we currently get no benefits at all and pay in over 50k/yr in tax as a household. that is how its always been. why should pensioners be any different? I exclude the pension here as thats not a benefit - but winter fuel allowance, bus passes etc are.

already we are retiring much later, and so for us these benefits have been greatly reduced.

I think wealthy is a very difficult thing to define. I don't understand the idea that if you earn £50k when you are working that somehow you are going to be a wealthy pensioner. When you stop earning to retire you don't get £50k any more, do you so why make the the bench mark for wealthy. You may retire on no pension at all even if you earnt £50k. Many private sector businesses don't have decent pension schemes these days and if you live in an expensive part of the country where housing costs are high and have several children you may have very little left for savings.

You also get anomolies like the situation my parents are in where they are 'wealthy' to the extent they have enough savings that they don't qualify for help with my father's care costs - he has Alzheimer's and still lives at home with 4 carer visits a day, made necessary by the fact that he is incontinent - but really they aren't going to be wealthy for long. My parents are paying out in excess of £350 a week for that care that they can't do without so their savings aren't going to go far or last for very much longer. In theory, given their savings I am sure some would argue they don't need WFA either but they have to have the heating on a lot (my father is housebound and pretty much immobile so feels the cold) and my mother needs the hot water to wash the bedding and clothing he regularly leaks all over and they are using all their savings paying for his care anyway. A little help doesn't go amiss, they are very grateful for it, and it takes the pressure off. My mother is 10 years younger than my father and apparently in good health. It is likely she could have another 15 years to live at least so whilst they are paying for my father's care, her finances are taking a massive hit too and I wonder how she will cope in the future.

Of course there are those whose incomes aren't very high, like my parents, but who are sitting on a bit of savings, possibly inherited from their parents and for them a straight income test of wealthy means very little. Their income is low but they can still afford the 6 holidays a year, decent cars, etc. Why should they get the WFA?

Sorting out what wealthy means and applying a means test would be very difficult. It is probably cheaper to leave it in place than to put everybody through it. If there is a mechanism for giving it back then you can't do much more than that really.

Underherthumb Tue 30-Apr-13 11:37:13

dreamingofsun - I agree, but doesn't mean I approve of the system.

Pensioners are typically considered different with respect benefits as they have few if any opportunities to improve their economic situation. Changing the goalposts is unfair because it's harder for them to adjust than the working age population. This is why so many are upset at the continuous QE injections.

My wife - the eternal optimist - reminds me regularly that people did just fine with far inferior services in the past and that we should all stop watching adverts on the TV. This did not go down at all well with DD who thought we were cancelling Peppa Pig time.

ChocolateCakePlease Tue 30-Apr-13 12:38:37

I agree to leave it alone because it is ok saying "well my father earned this" and "my mother gets this" etc but what about the generations who haven't been so fortunate with housing and private pensions? When they get to retirement age everyone will be moaning about how pensioners get nothing.

It is one thing to moan and want a change to what pensioners get now but in years to come those people will die out and we will be left with a whole load of people wanting to retire but haven't had the same oppertunity as todays pensioners. And lets be honest, todays pensioners expect an awful lot less then generations to come will.

merrymouse Tue 30-Apr-13 12:42:00

Completely agree with Bertha about costs of being elderly and Thumb about inability of pensioners to make alternative plans if rules are changed.

I also think some people have a rose tinted view of the past. No maternity pay or rights, limited employment and education opportunities for women, many women screwed my married woman's NI, austerity after the war etc. etc. I have no idea whether the various relatives of people on this thread deserve their foreign holidays. However I know which generation I'd rather be born in - its the one where thanks to people born before me I am not concerned about my children getting polio and no family members are recovering from TB in isolation in sanatoriums.

Want2bSupermum Tue 30-Apr-13 12:42:40

My DF is wealthy by any definition and he does his best not to take anything from the taxpayer. He spent his working life abroad and while he did operate his business in the UK he didn't pay personal taxes so doesn't claim a pension, pays to use the NHS or goes private and he wrote to his MP to ask how to return his free bus pass because he didn't want taxpayers paying for it.

I think the pensioners need protecting because most peoples wealth is tied up in their home. If you want people to save for retirement you need to provide an incentive for it. I will say that here in the US you save because the alternative is just unthinkable. Assisted living costs about $80k a year. We took long term care insurance out on my parents. It is not cheap in the short run but I am very happy to pay $1500 a year to know that my parents can be taken care of at a good facility close to their children.

While some people are quoting Norway with their soverign fund, I would like to also point out Singapore and their fund. Singapore is more represenative of the UK in terms of dealing with immigration and lack of natural resources that Norway benefits from.

boxershorts Tue 30-Apr-13 13:45:42

Duncan smith does not talk policy he seeks headlines.

ttosca Tue 30-Apr-13 14:56:47

Don't be fooled: Iain Duncan Smith’s attack on pensioners is really an attack on all of us

This is where the shredding of universalism ends up, promoting poisonous ideas of the 'undeserving poor' and the further destruction of Britain’s social cohesion


Britain’s welfare state is under such a sustained attack from so many directions, it is difficult to know where to begin a defence. The latest volley – yet another assault on the principle of universalism from Iain Duncan Smith – may, at first, seem more more challenging to take on than, say, the scandalous kicking of the working poor, disabled and unemployed people. Duncan Smith argues that wealthy pensioners who don’t really need benefits such as the winter fuel allowance or free bus passes should hand them back. How is unclear; as Ken Clarke quickly pointed out: “You can’t... I don’t think it has a system for doing that.” But it’s clear where this is all heading: the Liberal Democrats already favour stripping these benefits from middle-class people, and a large chunk of Tories would like to do the same, too.

On top of the chaotic withdrawal of child benefit for higher earners, Duncan-Smith’s intervention is consistent with the gradual chipping away of the very foundations of the welfare state. It’s a clever ruse, too. It seems to reverse the positions of left and right. How is it defensible for low-paid workers to cough up to pay for frivolous benefits that multi-millionaires simply do not need? It even taps into widespread discomfort with the very inequality promoted by right-wing policies: why on earth should some of the country’s wealthiest people get free TV licences?

It is certainly true that members of Britain’s booming rich elite have lots of money they simply don’t need, whether they have retired or not. That’s one reason we have this thing called tax. What it does – in theory, any way – is take money from you based on your income, in order to pay for a functioning, civilised society. Rich people have benefited from this more than most: they need workers trained by a state-funded education system and kept healthy by a state-funded healthcare system; they depend on lending from banks rescued by the taxpayer; they rely on state-funded infrastructure and research, and – like all of us – on a society that does not collapse. Whether they like it or not, they would not have made their fortunes without the state spending billions of pounds.

The universal basis of social security is this: “Everyone pays in, everyone gets something back.” It should be seen as inextricably linked with citizenship: that all of us have access to certain rights, whoever we are. On technical grounds, universalism works: it is the most efficient, cheap, easily understandable and simple way of administering the welfare state. Take a look at a Scandinavian country like Sweden. The wealthiest pay one of the highest tax rates in the world – nearly 57 per cent – and get the same excellent cradle-to-grave benefits as everybody else. Sweden, of course, is one of the most equal, best-functioning societies on earth, as nations with universal welfare states tend to be.

But what the assault on universalism really means is the further destruction of Britain’s already-collapsing social cohesion. The Tory strategy since coming to power has involved the most shameless attempt to turn large sections of the electorate against each other since the Second World War. If you’re a low-paid worker suffering cuts to your pay packet and tax credits then you are encouraged to be enraged that the less deserving unemployed “scrounger” is not being mugged sufficiently. Stripping the welfare state of its universalism will breed a middle-class that is furious about paying large chunks of tax, getting nothing back and subsidising the supposedly less deserving. It will accelerate the demonisation of the British poor.

It is easy to see where it is leading. Low-earners are being taken out of income tax, even if they are being left poorer overall by increased indirect taxes and the slashing of both in-work and out-of-work benefits. But remember when Mitt Romney damned the 47 per cent of Americans who supposedly paid nothing in, while benefiting from supposed state largesse? That is where the shredding of universalism ends up, promoting poisonous ideas of an undeserving poor, where the wealthy resent paying taxes in exchange for zilch.

Given the explosion in the fortunes of the wealthiest 1,000 Britons since Lehman Brothers collapsed is bigger than our annual deficit, the case for the rich coughing up more money is unanswerable. That means an all-out war on the £25bn lost each year through tax avoidance, increasing tax on both income and wealth, clamping down on tax relief on pension contributions for the wealthiest, hiking capital gains tax, and so on. If a pensioner is well-off, then they should pay more proportionate to their wealth and income. That’s how we get money from the wealthiest without undermining universalism in favour of an inefficient, socially destructive alternative.

As ever, the Tories are setting the terms of debate on social security in the absence of an effective response from the Labour leadership. All too often, Labour’s leading lights have refused to take on – or have even endorsed – Tory attempts to set people against each other. Their most recent proposals included a contributory system – that is, you get back depending on what you’ve put in. It would discriminate against the million young people currently languishing in unemployment; women, who are more likely to take time off work to look after children; disabled and ill people; poorer people; and those with the misfortune to live in areas of high unemployment. Labour has finally started accepting that low wages are being subsidised courtesy of the taxpayer, but has yet to consistently make the same argument about landlords charging extortionate rents.

The universal welfare state is under siege; it needs a confident, coherent defence. Talk of reform must surely centre on the subsidising of bosses and landlords. The case for tax on the basis of wealth and income desperately has to be made. As Britain’s finest Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, put it: “If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.” If Labour fails to do its job and drive the Tory onslaught back, our already deeply fragmented society will face even further social destruction. It must not be allowed to happen.


Pleasesleep Tue 30-Apr-13 15:40:04



But more importantly, here:


Pleasesleep Tue 30-Apr-13 15:40:47
babyboomersrock Tue 30-Apr-13 15:47:12

Excellent article, ttosca.

Politicians just love to set us against each other; makes their job much easier.

I'm a pensioner and I have never, nor will I ever, vote Tory. In my circle of old fogey friends, no-one does. It's becoming harder to know how to vote, mind you, since the main parties are morphing into one another (though I'm Scottish, so have more options than some).

I believe passionately in the welfare state - I think we know who the real financial rogues are in our society and it isn't the odd comfortably-off pensioner hoarding her WFA or using a bus pass she could do without.

Let's start thinking about other people when we use our vote, instead of just voting for the party which benefits us personally. Let's show a bit of care and compassion at a local level and see whether that changes our attitude towards each other.

What we have had - until now - is precious. We still have the NHS. We had a compassionate welfare system. Don't let's be hoodwinked into relinquishing them - because, bit by bit, that's what will happen if we don't look out for each other.

Lazyjaney Tue 30-Apr-13 16:27:16

The amount of public money going into pensioners is far too large a % of total Govmnt spend to ignore, and not affordable as we borrow more than we spend, no matter what the ethics they will have to cut it.

Underherthumb Tue 30-Apr-13 17:13:49

Lazyjaney - I agree. As a country we have been lavished with services that we cannot financially support . Before we decide on what to spend money on we need to sort out how much we spend.

In the UK 53% of households receive more from the state than they paid in tax - that is past tipping point. (ref: www.moneyweek.com/blog/an-unbearable-burden-on-the-state-61015)

I support the welfare state and hope that, despite some abuse, it is a sign of a caring society. However, that's a personal opinion on what I would spend money on - the starting point must surely be that we need to spend less money and spend it smarter.

merrymouse Tue 30-Apr-13 17:22:30

Looking at that article about 'baby boomers', even if they did lead a charmed life (which, remembering the 70's and 80's, the end of heavy industry in the uk, record interest rates, and 3m unemployed I would dispute) if a baby boomer was born between 1948 and 1964, they only cover an age span of 16 years and most of them are still under 60.

Hardly worth tearing apart the welfare state to teach them a lesson.

merrymouse Tue 30-Apr-13 17:28:00

How on earth do you work out which people received more from the state than they paid in? Is that over a lifetime?

ttosca Tue 30-Apr-13 17:41:04


> Lazyjaney - I agree. As a country we have been lavished with services that we cannot financially support . Before we decide on what to spend money on we need to sort out how much we spend.

We haven't been lavished with services at all. Our services are quite poor, inefficient, and not worth the money we pay for them. If you want to see what public services look like, go to France or Germany or Denmark or Japan.

> I support the welfare state and hope that, despite some abuse, it is a sign of a caring society. However, that's a personal opinion on what I would spend money on - the starting point must surely be that we need to spend less money and spend it smarter.

We currently have a high deficit of just under 11% (last time I checked) because we are in the middle of a recession. Prior to the financial crisis, it was 3% - which is what the EU says should be the limit.

The financial situation we're in now isn't the result of spending too much money on schools and hospitals. It's because of the financial crisis and subsequent recession, and because corporations are paying less tax than ever.

ttosca Tue 30-Apr-13 17:41:55

Completely agree babyboomersrock.

dreamingofsun Tue 30-Apr-13 17:54:50

merry - i am one of those babyboomers - for many years we have paid more into the pot than taken out. we currently don't qualify for any benefits at all. i'm not complaining as we don't need them and i would hate for our tax to increase even more to pay for them.

babbyboomer - your harrange people for looking after themselves and voting for self-interest and then seem to think its ok for people to vote for parties which redistribute wealth. surely this too is self-interest too, just the other way round?

babyboomersrock Tue 30-Apr-13 18:26:54

dreamingofsun, I don't think I harangued anyone. I was suggesting that we support each other instead of allowing politicians to set us against each other, that's all.

I haven't suggested voting for any particular party, either.

If I have to give up my free bus pass, then so be it. I believe in a more egalitarian society than we currently have - and one way to achieve that is for people to work together and share what they have.

merrymouse Tue 30-Apr-13 18:47:57

Ideologically I think the choice is between high tax and high benefits, with everybody having a stake in state services (schools, public transport, benefits according to situation eg having children, not only for 'the poor'), high state involvement in everyday life.


Low tax, limited, substandard benefits and state provision only for people living in poverty, 'small state', high reliance on private sector and charity organisations.

I can understand why people would support either point of view. However, I get the feeling from this thread that the Tories are successfully obscuring the real issues with talk about scroungers on the one hand and the middle classes spending their cb or wfa on cappuccinos or sangria on the other.

It's the thin end of the wedge.

mathanxiety Tue 30-Apr-13 21:00:52

<Grimbletart, I don't know how you can call maternity leave an 'entitlement'. What it is is equal opportunity to work for both men and women. Work plus have a baby and time to recover and not foist the baby on the welfare system via childcare allowance, etc. Work plus pay taxes too. Maternity leave is a human right and that is not the same thing at all as an entitlement.>

What I would worry about is someone like my mum thinking she was far better off than poor Mrs Soandso and giving back the small amount she gets out of guilt, and going without things she has got used to simply because she never had luxury growing up and she thinks of central heating even now as something she doesn't really need.

The Tories are of course fomenting strife between various groups. Divide and conquer is their modus operandi.

grimbletart Tue 30-Apr-13 22:21:42

math anxiety (sorry my computer won't let me do your name as one word, dratted thing keeps insisting on a space) - I don't see your problem with calling it an entitlement. An entitlement is a "just claim" or a "right" according to the dictionary- ergo, something according to the law you are entitled to i.e. your right.

Not being sarky - am genuinely puzzled as to your problem with the word.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 30-Apr-13 23:05:59


I too was considering the people like your mum and so many other pensioners, especially the old dears who grew up in the war. Yes they are still about, anybody who can't see this. The old dears I have scrimp on lots of things whether they have money or not and are very vulnerable imo.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 30-Apr-13 23:06:41

old dears I know, not have. I don't collect them honestly grin

mathanxiety Wed 01-May-13 03:54:56

Entitlement in the context of welfare means something different -- something akin to the NHS or housing benefit.

(My name as it stands was a typo anyway so no worries)

grimbletart Wed 01-May-13 11:29:54

Really? That intrigued me, so I googled the meaning of entitlement in the context of welfare, but it still defines it as "the official right to have or do something, or the amount that you have a right to receive" (Longman's contemporary dictionary) so I still can't see it as any different from my comment up thread.

But you live and learn...grin.

Underherthumb Wed 01-May-13 12:39:20

"We currently have a high deficit of just under 11% (last time I checked) because we are in the middle of a recession. Prior to the financial crisis, it was 3% - which is what the EU says should be the limit.

The financial situation we're in now isn't the result of spending too much money on schools and hospitals. It's because of the financial crisis and subsequent recession, and because corporations are paying less tax than ever."

That's kind of what I was trying to say. In 10-15 years of economic success and consistent growth we still managed to run a year on year deficit of around 3%. Hardly surprising that when it all hit the wall the deficit plunged even further.

Whichever way I look at it, I can't see past the fact that - good times or bad - our government always spends more than we bring in. I blame the election cycle.

Not sure what you mean by corporations paying less tax than ever. The last numbers I can see from IFS show a 14% year on year increase to around £43 billion in financial year 2011. The ONS states that 1.07 million new private sector jobs were created between 2010 and 2012, each of which incurs employers NI contributions @13.8% from the company. I'd say corporations as a whole were paying more tax than ever.

scottishmummy Wed 01-May-13 19:21:15

Let's start with the wealth pensioners in commons and house of lords giving back monies

morethanpotatoprints Wed 01-May-13 22:48:55

The word entitlement has nothing to do with benefit. It does mean something you have a right to.
Some people on here don't believe that certain people or type of people should be entitled to certain benefits. Hence the word entitlement somehow gains stigma and is taken out of context and its literal meaning. confused

I wonder if any other words in our language are the same?

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