Penny-Pinching Pension Pandemonium
Well, this just about takes the biscuit. You probably already know, or could work it out for yourselves, but I really do have to cover it on the BeeHive I think.
Today, as I write this on the 10th of April, is the day that the Basic State Pension gets its annual increase applied. It doesn’t ever go up by much (ask my Dad if you don’t believe me), but the annual increases are all that give many pensioners any hope at all of making ends meet – not that that’s that easy these days with Council Tax going through the roof. The Basic Pension used to go up in line with the general increase in earnings levels in the good old days and many people are saying they want that link restored, but these days it is sadly only linked to the lower rate of increase in prices. In fact, today’s rise is supposed to be based on last September’s Retail Price Indexation figure of 2.7%.
Now, the Basic Pension for the 2005/2006 year was £82.05 a week for a single person so the 2.7% RPI increase should take it up to £84.265 (which if we were being fair about it we would round up the halfpenny to make it a round £84.27). But guess what? The increase announced today is from £82.05 to £84.25! I mean, what a cheek! That’s a full penny halfpenny a week short.
I know you’ll probably think, “So what? It’s only a penny or two…” but that’s to miss the point. We have 11 million pensioners in the UK today and a penny halfpenny saved from each one every week amounts to a massive saving of £8.58 million a year for the Government!
The National Pensioners Convention has picked up on this and their General Secretary, Joe Harris, had this to say about it:
"It is widely acknowledged that the level of the basic state pension is totally inadequate - but it seems the government is trying to make it even worse. Over 2.2m pensioners are living below the official poverty line, and the vast majority of them are women. This latest cutback is nothing more than sheer penny-pinching. Today the state pension rises by just £2.20 a week, yet ministers don't seem to think that the needs of today's pensioners should be considered as part of their planned pension reform. They need to realise that without tackling the scandal of unequal pensions for women, the inadequate level of the basic state pension and failure of means-testing, it will be impossible to get any agreement on how to change Britain's pension system. The forthcoming white paper must include an immediate commitment to raising the basic state pension to at least £114 a week, restoring its link to earnings and paying the full pension equally to all men and women as a matter of urgency."
I agree with every word of that.
11 April 2006
National Pensioners Convention.
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