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Britain's pensioners are the poorest in Europe.

303 replies

ivanahoe · 29/01/2010 20:26

Millions of elderly people in Britain are having to choose between eating and heating their homes because the UK's State pension is so low, and what's more the media are sweeping this issue under the carpet.

The basic state pension for single pensioners is just £97. 25 a week, and this is following a 30, 40, and 50 year working life contributing to the system both taxes and NI contribution which were mandatory

The State pension used to increase with British male average earnings, or inflation whichever the higher to protect its value prior to 1979, but when Thatcher took office in 1979, she broke to state pensions link with male average earnings, and the state pension has decreased in value ever since, being linked to inflation, and New Labour have continued Thatcher's pension policy.

Because we British are not generally politically motivated until things happen to ourselves, I wonder how many on this site know about the very serious plight of pensioners in this country ?

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Chil1234 · 01/02/2010 11:41

It's not all pensioners, though, is it? Remember the great queues of pretty ordinary people outside Northern Rock wishing to withdraw surprisingly large amounts of money? What with property values and the old-fashioned habit of 'cutting your cloth' some people are quite comfortably off.

Poor pensioners are entitled to top-up pension credits and many other benefits that can potentially make their lives a lot easier. Millions goes unclaimed every year due to pride or ignorance and that's something that needs to be urgently addressed.

And the rest of us should take note & make our own provisions for old age. If the government doesn't finance your lifestyle today... don't expect that to change just because you hit 65.

ivanahoe · 01/02/2010 23:38

Yes it is, all pensioners are being denied a decent state pension increasing with male average earnings or inflation whichever the higher.

Means testing pensioners is not just an evil, it is a crime, Gordon Brown said that prior to the 1997 general election.

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mulberrybush · 02/02/2010 00:10

You are quite right.

The difficulty is that it is really difficult to move public opinion on anything that the media does not find interesting, and the media are never interested in the elderly for a long period.

You get the occasional bout of horror, when everyone wrings their hands at how bad it all is, but then things move on to the next story.

I know i often find myself saying "the media should do xxx", but the fact of the matter is that they don't see it that way. Their function is to sell papers, or to clock up viewer numbers.

What I keep thinking is that we need much more structured forums, where there is a lot of material gathered together on different topics, People can read the research papers and summaries, and can take part in discussions.

There are of course public consultation exercises going on all the time, but how many people get to hear about any of them? I have taken part in a few, most people will not have done.

With pensions, you are I am sure quite right that this is something that needed to be addressed in the 80s or before, and it hasn't really been tackled adequately yet, so there is major funding gap.

I don't think there is a painless solution to this one. The number of pensioners in poverty is likely to grow. We won't be able to walk away from it, there won't be enough young people of earning age for them to carry the burden so the only logical solution is that either you tolerate huge disparities between the poor and wealthy elderly, or you find ways of sharing the costs within your own age group.

I think I am a bit of a maverick where it comes to money. I ask the question that Vince Cable does. "What is money for". I think we have to look at what it is important to do, and if we find that we are being prevented from doing it because of money, then we should look at different ways of raising the money!

It is incidentally a question I've asked two other issues in recent years. One was Care funding, and one was Feed in Tariffs for Renewable energy. On both of these questions I went out on a limb. Now they are both happening! Can't see any reason why it wouldn't work for pensions too.

ivanahoe · 02/02/2010 16:58

mulberrybush, im going to give you some facts.

Means testing pensionhers is costing 15 times more than the the restoration of the earnings link, and as more and more people reach retirement age means testing costs will become more, and state pension costs will dwindle.

The government prefere means testing becausae they ar phasing the state pension out as the primary scoure of etirement in this country.

The low state pensioon in this country has nothing to do with cost, it is to do with right wing dogma.

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ivanahoe · 02/02/2010 16:59

mulberrybush, please go to this link,

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sarah293 · 02/02/2010 17:08

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morningpaper · 02/02/2010 17:11

I don't believe that British pensioners are the poorest in Europe

Where's your figures

I agree that the state pension is crap, but that's why you need your own pension!

sarah293 · 02/02/2010 17:40

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ivanahoe · 02/02/2010 19:14

Pension Credit is a means test, and pensioners should not have to endure means testing for more money.

The basic state pension should be increased universially.

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ivanahoe · 02/02/2010 19:17

morningpaper, European State pensions are much higher.

And by your comment, this proves that the media by constantly burying this issue, keeping people ignorant of the facts is working.

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ivanahoe · 02/02/2010 19:19

morningpaper, Your second sentence proves you know nothing about this issue, so how can you have an opinion ?

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morningpaper · 02/02/2010 19:22

No I want figures

Please give me the comparison universal non means-tested state pensions of other european countries

I want a nice table

Earlybird · 02/02/2010 19:24

Disclaimer: am not British, so keep that in mind if I appear ignorant.....

Were state pensions ever meant to be a sole means of support after retirement, or were they meant to 'top up' a person's own pension (privately arranged or via an employer)?

morningpaper · 02/02/2010 19:41

well I have googled

and apparently the UK state pension is around the 6th in Europe if you compare it as a percentage of average earnings - although this is using the basic state pension of 90 quid or whatever rather than the topped-up pension

however, in the long-run, the UK's state pension is the most sustainable - and apparently Greece's pension system is on the verge of bankruptcy

well that's my research for the evening

FootStamper · 02/02/2010 20:02

A vast number of today's pensioners are cash poor and asset rich. They have benefitted enormously from the bull market in UK residential property and have money tied up in an illiquid asset, namely their home. I am afraid I don't see why I should pay more in tax to support such individuals in their dotage. Sell up, release some equity or chose between your gas bill and your food bill.

sarah293 · 03/02/2010 08:02

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ssd · 03/02/2010 08:15

my mum is 82 and has more money coming in to her than she's ever had in her whole life

to those complaining about this issue, how many pensioners do you know where you know their actual financial details? or is this something you've read in the papers?

am really curious. my mum doesn't own property or have a private pension, she gets pension credit, highest rate of attendance allowance, free rent, cheap council tax, she's got more coming in then ever.

sarah293 · 03/02/2010 08:28

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ssd · 03/02/2010 09:29

the ironic thing is my mum and dad could really have done with the money when I was small, my mum has told me how they lived hand to mouth a lot of the time. she says herself she's got the money now but is housebound and can't spend it.

ssd · 03/02/2010 09:31

must add, she's very generous to us, which we really appreciate. I just wish she could spend some of it on herself, but she's lost interest in going out or buying anything and when I ask her if she needs anything she always says no.

ivanahoe · 03/02/2010 10:58

It is abundantly clear to me that there is a complete ignorance from site members who have responded to my posting.

Some of you want proof of what I say, well if you want proof, this means you are living with your head in a bubble and therefore in my view "proof" will not convince you.

Suffice to say im not in the least bit interested in politics, but I dont like injustice, and when Thatcher broke the link that kept the state pensions increasing with male average earnings in 1980, almost 30 years ago, and linked the state pension to inflation, that's when the state pension level started to dwindle, and means testing became the norm.

Now if you proof seekers are still reading.

I began standing and being counted on "behalf" of pensioners, over 20 years ago, and im still not a pensioner.

I never would have believed that 20 years on
this crisis for our elderly people would still exist, and I remain shocked that so many people on this site, "need proof".

What I hear from these people never ceases to amaze me, ie, "my mum manages", "my gran manages", and words to that effect, but my answer ?, "of course they manage, they have to", they have no choice, but many do not manage.

1 in 5 from 12 million pensioners live in poverty in this country, having to choose between heating their homes and buying food, there are also millions of pensioners who suffer untimely deaths each winter because of hypothermia related illness, due to the above reasons.

Means testing pensioners is not the answer to providing our elderly people with decent living standards, without means testing, particularly as they have spent a 30, 40, and 50 year working life on lower wages than today, paying into the system.

A decent state pension is their "right", but this wont happen bcause the government are phasing the state pension out.

Which means in future years todays young people who will not have been able to save for a private pension due to long term unemployement,/ and/or low wages, and therfore will be in the same, if not worse destitution as their parents and grandparents are in today, and this destitution will be of young people's own making because they all failed to stand and be counted on behalf of all British including their own parents and grandparents when it mattered, because they just didnt see it coming, they had no insight.

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dreamingofsun · 03/02/2010 11:08

i think you some of you are making sweeping generalisations. My IL's are on a pension with means tested benefits and they are actually better off than when he worked. Every so often they give their children money or they end up with too much which affects their benefits - they do live in a cheap area of the country. though. they still go abroad on holiday, run a car, redecorate their houses etc. The people i feel sorry for are those that have saved all their lives and get just too much to get extra gov help - so end up paying full council tax etc. This gov has done more damage to pensions than any other and has discouraged people from saving

ivanahoe · 03/02/2010 11:31

FootStamper, that response just goes to show how much you know.

Means testing pensioners is costing tax payers 15 times more than it would cost for a higher state pension.

And as more and more people retire, means test costs will spiral, and state pension costs will dwindle.

Never mind, you keep listening and believing the propogandist twaddle coming through our media because it suits you mindset.

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ivanahoe · 03/02/2010 11:34

morningpaper, European pensioners receive more money as a state pension because their government's use more Gross National Product toward state pensions, ie 12 per cent, where our government uses just 5 per cent.

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sarah293 · 03/02/2010 13:14

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