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BeeHive  >  BeeLines  >  2009  >  Feb  >  Pensioner Poverty

Pensioner Poverty

One thing I’d say about BeeLiners is that they’re pretty opinionated when it comes to pensions issues; certainly judging by the quality and quantity of e-mails we get in all the time. That’s good, some of us who spend our lives working within the system should be among those best placed to be acutely aware of its quirks and inadequacies.

There’s a chance that we might, if asked, be able to come up with some sensible solutions to the problems we see around us too, particularly those of us who have daily dealings with individual pension savers and group pension scheme members. Plenty of different types of pension people read the BeeHive these days; many advisers, of course, but also pension scheme trustees, pension lawyers, finance directors, accountants and also many others including retired professionals who are simply interested in the subject of pensions. We’re a broad church I guess and I’d say that as a group we probably have thousands of years of practical experience of pensions between us.

Perhaps we can use that combined experience to good effect. A few days ago the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee announced that it is to conduct an enquiry into tackling pensioner poverty in Great Britain. They have invited submissions from ‘interested organisations and individuals’; in my book that’s us.

These are the questions they’ve asked:

  1. What more does DWP need to do to address pensioner poverty? Are there specific groups who are more vulnerable to facing poverty in old age?
  2. Impact of the financial crisis on pensioner poverty - for example on savings income and on older people nearing retirement. Is "lifestyling" enough to mitigate the effects? What is the potential impact of the financial crisis on annuity rates? How will the financial crisis impact upon the numbers of pension credit claims?
  3. Benefits take-up - why do some people not take up their entitlement to benefits (e.g. Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit) and how can take up rates be improved? What impact will the pilots for automatic take up proposed in the Welfare Reform Bill have on pension credit take up?
  4. Basic State Pension - will the 2010 changes create a fairer state pension system?
  5. Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Carer's Allowance- Are the eligibility rules and rates for the respective benefits sufficient? Are these rules and application processes understood by pensioners who claim them?
  6. Are lump sum payments, such as the Winter Fuel Payment, an appropriate way of addressing pensioner poverty?
  7. Is the Government's programme of welfare reform the right approach for supporting pensioners who wish to continue working?

The Committee says it wants written contributions on this issue by the deadline of Monday 2nd March 2009 and that oral evidence sessions will take place after Easter. So why don’t we give it a go? If enough of you have the time to give some thought to some or all of the issues raised in those seven questions (and the time to jot them down in an e- mail and send them in to us) then Ms Bruun and I will see if we can pull some of the common threads together and weave a submission from the BeeHive readership that we can send on to the committee.

From reading all your e-mails over the years I’d say that the opinions of BeeLiners would be well worth taking into account; what do you say?

Steve Bee

3 February 2009

Source: House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee Press Notice 30 January 2009.

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