Advanced search

'wealthy pensioners urged to give up benefits'

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

How wealthy is wealthy?

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?

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

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

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.

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.

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)

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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

Completely agree babyboomersrock.

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.

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?

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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


But more importantly, here:

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


But more importantly, here:

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.

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

Duncan smith does not talk policy he seeks headlines.

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.

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.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: