The Conservative party has pledged to consign the possible granting of state pension increases so small as to be meaningless ,to the political dustbin by confirming the retention of the ‘triple lock’ guarantee for state pension increases post-2015 ,if re-elected. No sooner had this political football been punctured than murmurings were to be heard from other political quarters threatening to remove the following pensioners’ non-means tested benefits :
– free tv licence fee for the over-75s
-winter fuel allowances
-free prescriptions and eye tests
It is true that there are some wealthy pensioners in the UK who could well fund these benefits for themselves. According to the Hands Off ! campaign, however,the high figures for usage point to a clear need for these benefits to be retained.It also says that the high level of unclaimed means tested benefits, for over 65s, clearly shows that means testing does not work.
“We have,for the first time,placed a value on the economic and social contribution that older people make to our society. In 2010,over 65s made an astonishing net contribution of £40 billion to the UK economy through,amongst other contributions,taxes, spending power,…” Lynne Berry, WRVS
Hands Off! also says,the recent period of austerity is seen as having hit hard the older as well as the younger generations in the nation.The risk of poverty in older people is said to be higher than for most other EU countries.
There have been a number of recent changes affecting pensioner benefits:
-the date for women’s pension retirement age brought forward
-state pensions linked to the lower measure of inflation (CPI)
-raised qualifying age for Winter fuel payments
-the freezing of personal allowances for over 4 million pensioners, expected to save the government £1bn by 2015.
“There are over 10 million people aged 65+ living in the UK. Two out of three believe that politicians see older people as a low priority. The ‘Hands Off’ campaign plans to change that.” Hands Off!”
An e-petition entitled ‘Hands off universal pensioner benefits’ has been created in order to influence government and parliament in the UK.
Sign-up today! The opportunity to do so ends 10th May 2014