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We paid our taxes...

(58 Posts)
KatGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 30-May-13 10:07:19

Gwyn Bailey discusses why pensioners should not have the benefits they have worked for taken away. What's your stance on this controversial debate? Do you think universal benefits should be means tested?

Read her guest blog post here.

Movedalot Thu 30-May-13 10:47:39

What a shame they never interview ordinary pensioners on these shows. Of course the audience wouldn't feel any sympathy for 2 celebs.

What seems to be forgotten is that the winter fuel allowance was originally a substitute for increasing the basic pension! If it were added to the pension all this silly fuss would stop. Anyone receiving it who doesn't need it can give it to charity and do so in a tax efficient way so the charity gains an extra £50. Some of us think the charities might do a better job with it than the government.

I don't use my bus pass very much so it doesn't cost anyone anything I think. Is it the case that the bus companies are only paid when we actually use the pass? If this is so then it is rediculous to say that all the rich pensioners are getting something they don't need as they probably don't use it. What about the Freedom Pass enjoyed only by Londoners and not the rest of us? A lot of people are using it to get to and from work.

I am very against means testing for the so called benefits. I think they are rights. Such a load of beaurocracy might create more public sector jobs but probably wouldn't save any money.

I do wish someone would define what they mean by rich pensioners.

sunseeker Thu 30-May-13 11:18:59

moved I agree with all your comments. When will politicians stop using pensioners as the scapegoat for the ills of the country? Not many, if any, of the bankers who caused a lot of the problem were of pension age.

Like most pensioners, I am on a limited income. The WFA barely made a dent in my last bill for heating oil (over £1,000). Those of us who were able to save for our later years are unable to claim many benefits in any event. You only need a very small "nest egg" to be ineligible.

Like a lot of pensioners I have certain medical conditions which mean I have to take pills for the rest of my life - if I had to pay for prescriptions, the chances are I would not take them and thereby shorten my life expectancy.

adult01936 Thu 30-May-13 11:32:47

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adult01936 Thu 30-May-13 11:32:54

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Galen Thu 30-May-13 11:45:05

I don't have a bus pass. I can't use buses anyway.

Movedalot Thu 30-May-13 11:55:23

Another thought - those of us who did our best to save for our old age are being penalised because of government actions which have drastically reduced savings rates. Anyone saving now is wasting their time and the government needs to think about the message it is sending out.

Charleygirl Thu 30-May-13 12:32:52

I am not 100% certain on this but I think in London each council pays a certain amount of money for each pensioner's freedom pass whether it is used or not. I think that it should be for each trip, that would be fairer and is possible in this technological age.

I also would like to to discover the definition of a "rich" pensioner.

I do not think that we should be means tested, they are rightfully mine.

The one thing I do not agree with and that is pensioners over 60 years, are still working full time and getting Freedom passes in London. This should be given after full retirement.

The Government may well lay off saying that we should be paying for prescriptions, bus and tube trips, + give up our fuel allowance etc nearer the general election in 2015 when they realise that we are the ones that make a real effort to vote.

Maggiemaybe Thu 30-May-13 12:55:37

Oh Charleygirl, you're opening a can of worms when you talk about over 60s and full retirement. Best get your hard hat....

I'll indulge in a brief whinge on this subject myself. Born in 1955 I thought I would be retiring in January 2015, helping out with the grandchildren, doing a little charity work, after paying into the state coffers for 34 years (7 off for child-rearing). As it happens, my date is now January 2021, when I'll be 66, and I'm not convinced it won't rise again. And am I bitter? Yes, of course I b****y well am!

A free bus pass for the extra 6 years would have been gratefully accepted as some small acknowledgement of the years of pension I've lost. After all, my husband's 63 now and has had his for 3 years. I see him using it at weekends as meaning one fewer car on the clogged roads and much-needed support for our one-an-hour bus service.

Jan Fri 31-May-13 13:36:16

Means testing is very costly. A universal benefit is cheap to deliver. The best way of making sure it's those who need the winter fuel payment benefit, is to use the tax system which would take back from the wealthy what they don't need. The tax system is already up and running and would need no extra resources to sought out this conundrum.

Ditto bus passes. If bus passes are removed from those who use them the bill for anti- depressants would rise for those isolated because they can't get out to visit family or get to a vibrant town centre or just use the bus for a day out. The air quality would also be worse if more older people use their cars. We should be encouraging use of the buses (via free bus passes) to reduce congestion and improve air quality. In fact if I were Chancellor I would make all public transport free or very cheap, for these reasons. De -privatising them would help! (Also - The break up of the rail network into different companies is an absolute nonsense.)

It's important to consider the whole picture.

It's useless trying to travel by car to my local big town from the beginning of December to the end of January as it is so jammed with cars and the car parks are full. It's the bus every time for me.

I spent many years caring for my elders and as a result I have a very reduced pension. The changes to give everyone a standard pension in future will not be retrospective - so for people like me - we need all the help we can get.

moonriver Fri 31-May-13 13:43:04

I feel no guilt at taking my winter fuel allowance,my husband paid plenty to the government over the years so I feel entitled to it. I don't have a bus pass as I never use buses, my children went to private schools so we didn't make use of the state school system. I know this is/was our choice but now that I am an old lady feel quite happy to take from the state whatever is on offer because I feel I have earned it.

AlieOxon Fri 31-May-13 14:37:00

I don't feel guilty. But last time I shared it with my daughter - who is getting less money than I am and still has a child to support.

terryb Fri 31-May-13 14:46:01

I have worked all my life and I have knee problems (through work), where my knee's 'lock' if I don't keep them moving, so a car for me is not an option.

In the mornings, when I get out of bed, it is funny to watch as it takes me a few minutes of exercises before my legs (and knee's) will support me.

I have saved all my life and apart from my Government pension , 2 small work pension and a private pension, for which I am taxed, I receive no other benefit as I have two many asset's.

What annoys me is the amount of younger (apparently able) people who claim and consider it their right to live off everybody else, and have no intention of ever working.

I was speaking to a man in his forties today at the bus stop and he was complaining how they have cut his money to only £280 per fortnight, where before he was getting £400 per week, and his rent paid.

His 'Illness', he is a drug addict--


Lizzievee Fri 31-May-13 15:36:37

I agree that we should not feel guilty about our Freedom passes and winter fuel allowance. The welfare state was invented as a contributory protection and I have paid NI and tax all my life. My savings are falling in value because government policy favours lending. Apart from a mortgage, I have never run up debt but saved for what I want. The current attitude of living off credit is disastrous and the frugal are paying for it. The only sympathy I have for credit is over housing, where housing benefits paid to greedy landlords has led to ridiculous inflation in house values.

bluebell58 Fri 31-May-13 19:16:03

I keep hearing of those that say they don't want the winter fuel allowance because they don't need it and use this as an argument for means testing. So why did they apply for it? I'm not entitled to it but my husband is and he didn't get it automatically, he had to apply. This year he had to ring three times to chase it up because he hadn't received it. The pensioners who get it and say they don't want it receive it because they applied for it.

GrannyGear Fri 31-May-13 20:04:15

I totally agree with the contributors above, especially Jan. I think local buses should be regarded as a public service like schools, hospitals and libraries, available for those who choose to use them, funded from general taxation and free at the point of use.

I went for a day out by bus yesterday and the majority of the passengers were using passes. If there were no bus passes it wouldn't be long before there were no buses, at least in rural areas.

I heard a suggestion somewhere that pensioners should give their passes to youngsters looking for jobs. I don't think this would work. The pass includes photo. An old lady of 70 looks nothing like a young lad of 17. They'd both be had up for fraud!

Tegan Fri 31-May-13 20:07:05

I've just applied for my pension and was told that I would automatically receive my fuel allowance but that I would have to apply for a bus pass, so I assume that only people who apply for and want to use bus passes cost the council anything.

ps Fri 31-May-13 20:31:30

Tegan you are right in that a bus pass has to be applied for. Up until early November last year I don't think I had been on a bus since before I was married in 1972. Since early November I have not been permitted to drive and so I applied for a bus pass (I am 65 this September). Without the pass I would be totally isolated and without any means of escaping into the outside world apart from walking some 30 minutes to town. I use the bus on average once a month so assuming local authorities are charged per journey it is not a lot but certainly means a lot and makes a massive difference to those like me temporarily unable to drive.

litlemisssunshine Fri 31-May-13 20:32:36

Charleygirl, what a shocking insult ! you say pensioners over 60 years, are still working full time and getting Freedom passes in London. This should be given after full retirement. Full retirement has been drastically delayed for many many people. …..I have been supporting various non-working recipients of pensions and benefits for over 40 years so far. Born in 1956 and working FULL TIME since age 15, as well as bringing up a family and going through a divorce, I have always worked and budgeted to a retirement date of 2016. Now as things stand my retirement is delayed until 2022, at the best. I wrote to my MP and he very eloquently, said ”TOUGH” the country can’t afford to not make changes. I respect all that but why does the UK continue to pay NON-CONTRIBUTORY recipients of pensions and benefits who do NOT deserve it! All the changes mean that my retirement age is AGE 67, the maths show I will have worked for FIFTYTWO years by then. My husband who is 2 years older than me will get his state pension THREE YEARS EARLIER THAN ME!!!!! How mad is that!! And like MAGGIEMAYBE I'm not convinced my retirement age won't rise again. So hard slog, keep going, grit the teeth [without any help towards dental charges..] I won’t get any retirement “PERKS” for some considerable time yet.
 So I could easily be DEAD before I get my pension. Nevermind any winter fuel, nevermind any bus pass, I’ll be shivering and walking to my destinations, to keep myself warm. Unfair I say, very unfair.

Joan Fri 31-May-13 23:57:51

I don't understand how any government can muck around with a contributory based pension. It is like a fire insurance company refusing to pay out after a fire, 'cos you can afford to sort it out yourself.

It sounds illegal to me.

As for means tested pensions, for people who never paid NI contributions - I guess they are vulnerable to however the government wants to hurt them, and with a right wing government, this is usually done for idealism-based reasons.

Other perks - that all depends on the definition of rich.

BUT, my observations are from afar - i get a small UK pension based on the years I worked there and paid my NI contributions. It is in addition to my Australian pension, for which I'm entitled, like everyone else, having worked and paid taxes for over 10 years.

I get concessional travel on buses trains and ferries, ie half price, and a few discounts and concessions for goods and services.

We manage fine.

Brabant Sat 01-Jun-13 09:15:39

Crumbs means tested! What a damned cheek. I worked very hard all my working life: paid my taxes like a good-un and moved to France when I retired (cheaper). And guess what only last year did the UK give in, thanks to the European court and pay up the winter fuel allowance to retirees who live in Europe. The European court told them to back-pay it but of course they wriggled out of that!

Most certainly it should not be means tested. It's about time those of us who worked hard and payed our way generously got something back.

sunseeker Sat 01-Jun-13 10:19:22

I agree with the comments already posted. I live on my state pension and two private pensions which gives me an income of below £12,000 p.a. I know that makes me better off than a lot of people but the odd "perks" I get, WFA and bus pass, really help. I agree the easiest way of dealing with "rich" pensioners would be through the taxation system rather than means testing.

I also would like the politicians to quantify what they mean by a rich pensioner (we aren't all Alan Sugar!!)

Nelliemoser Sat 01-Jun-13 11:00:32

Moonriver You say you didn't make use of the state education system. as your children went to private schools. Who do you think educated the staff at your children's schools? Was every person at from the head teacher to the caretaker privately educated? Who educated the staff at your bank or the staff at your health center, etc. etc.

We all benefit from the state education system whether we have children or not.

Greatnan Sat 01-Jun-13 11:14:00

I was lucky - as I was already receiving the WFA in the UK, I continued to receive it when I moved to France. I would be happy for it to be added to my pensions and taxed.
My Teacher's and Civil Service Pensions are taxed at source in the UK, but they are almost covered by the personal allowance. My UK state retirement pension is taxable in France, but I receive the French equivalent of the PA so I have never paid tax for all the 11 years I have lived in France. However, my global income is taken into account when assessing my entitlement to a reduction or abatement in the two property taxes and the TV licence, so I have to pay about 1,000 euros p.a. for those, just as my French neighbours do. I have no complaints about the system here.
One strange fact - I receive 0.5 points, in addition to my single person allowance of 1.0 points, because I brought up my younger daughter for five years after my divorce. I have pointed out that she is a grandmother, but they have told me it makes no difference! Who am I to complain?

kelpie Sat 01-Jun-13 11:14:45

I am happy to use my bus pass and heating allowance without feeling the least bit guilty, nor are they a nice 'perk' for me.
I have lost a considerable amount of income in the past 5 years or so from savings income, which I need to use to increase my small state and private pension. The universal benefits I receive, no way make up this loss from my annual income.
O.K. I retired at 60, as did all women 10 years ago,but my State Pension is small. Women who stayed at home looking after children pre the early 70s, were not credited with SRP contributions, we were excluded from changes made after this period, to ensure that 'Stay at Home Mums' SRP entitlement was protected. As a result many older female pensioners lost many years SRP entitlement and are now heavily reliant on Universal Benefits.
It is a difficult situation, but tarring everyone with the same brush isn't helpful, there are winners and losers in all walks of life and trying to come up with a fair system is impossible unlees you go down the Taxation route and that would only throw up other problems.