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Have you got questions for the Labour spokesperson on pensions?

(74 Posts)
GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 11-Jul-11 16:44:59

Rachel Reeves, who speaks for the opposition on pensions, will be coming on Gransnet for a webchat on Tuesday 26 July from 1-2pm. If you have any questions for her - on pensions, politics, or anything else - please add them here.

glammanana Mon 11-Jul-11 17:09:05

Please explain to me why my DS who was one of the first to go into Iraq and
has since come out of the Armed forces cannot get any decent housing for
himself,he trained as a medic and was very experienced in his job,a job which
he loved but now he has to rent privately as the local council will only rehouse
people who are classed as homeless,something is very wrong with the system.

Why should my benifits be affected if I take a part time job for 10hrs a week
and give my life experience to the employer concerned (Local Council)and be
penilised for it.

Joan Mon 11-Jul-11 23:50:39

Why are our British pensions, which we paid for under a contributory scheme, not index-linked when we live in Australia?

em Tue 12-Jul-11 00:31:56

I've read several articles which indicate that not giving the proposed £145 'new' pension to existing pensioners will involve a huge amount of bureaucratic cost - far more than if everyone receives it. It seems that phasing out the current means testing will be more expensive than simply switching to flat-rate pensions. So from this point of view as well as the perception of fairness how do you explain this differentiation in entitlement?

absentgrana Tue 12-Jul-11 09:14:28

Joan Too right. I am hoping to emigrate to New Zealand if the visa process ever comes to an end and British pensions there are frozen at the value they have when you leave the country. The government has said it's something to do with not having a reciprocal arrangement as they do with EU countries, but I can't understand that as contributions were paid to the British government and pensions are paid by the British government. I think there are also anomalies with other non-EU ex-pats who do get the increase.

Joan Tue 12-Jul-11 11:38:01

Well, with reciprocal agreements, they knock off the same amount from your local pension, as you get from the UK, so the country you move to has a vested interest in ensuring you get as much as possible, because the more you get from the UK, the less your new country has to pay. For instance, I worked 4 years in NZ and get a pension from there that equates to A$40 a fortnight, so the Australian system knocks off $40 a fortnight from what they pay me.

However, the Australian system lets my husband and me keep our small UK pensions as they are below a certain amount. So a reciprocal agreement would not help us. Giving us the pension rises would be a huge help, and it seems unfair that our UK pensions will effectively shrink as time goes by, as we contributed to the system at quite a high cost to us and our employers.

Barrow Tue 12-Jul-11 13:23:44

My husband and I are in receipt of my state pension and 2 very small private pensions and as we have savings above a certain level are unable to obtain any benefits. Whilst I accept that money should be used to help those who have very little I do feel there is a case for basing Council Tax benefit on income rather than on what savings are held. I have a friend who is on benefits and receives relief on her Council Tax even though her income is more than ours.

To a certain extent I can control how much I spend on outgoings, food, heating, insurance and the like but I have no control on the amount of Council Tax I have to pay - currently we pay around £40 per week. If I don't pay that I will be taken to court. If just Council Tax benefit was based on income I am sure it would help a large number of people who have tried to make provision for their old age but are on a limited income.

absentgrana Tue 12-Jul-11 14:09:06

Barrow When did they change the rules on council tax benefit? In the days when I used to handle my mother's finances and correspondence for her, I think it was her income, not her savings that mattered. I'm horrified to learn that it's the other way round now.

Barrow Tue 12-Jul-11 14:16:23

Absentgrana - when my husband was diagnosed with cancer he was unable to work so our income dropped like a stone. I applied to our local authority for relief on the Council Tax and was told we had too much savings. I was told by many that I had been too honest in letting them know how much we had!

Carol Tue 12-Jul-11 14:58:02

I want to know whether the proposal to limit the £140 equivalent pension to new claimants will be reconsidered to include existing pensioners. Why should those of us who have paid for longer be discriminated against when we clearly need this money as much as new claimants?

crimson Tue 12-Jul-11 15:34:38

I'm due to get my pension when I'm 61 3/4; I'd like some reassurance that, when the time comes, that date will not be changed. I'm also concerned that I won't get a bus pass or reduced train fares. I was very much looking forward to both of those, partly because from an envirinmental point of view I would prefer to use public transport whenever possible, but can't afford to do so. I would imagine that the majority of shoppers in the new shopping complex in my city are people using their bus passes; it's the shops that will miss out by having fewer customers. I'd also like to point out that I'm 59 and divorced; I have a very small private pension to look forward to, my house has devalued dramatically over the past couple of years and, even if I did try to sell it and downsize I'd probably struggle to sell it in the current climate. I'm actually very scared to face the future..something that, living in this country I never thought would happen. I'd also like to ask why utilities bills are going up all the time and why nothing is being done to stop this happening. I don't understand why British Gas are constantly putting their prices up when their holding company, Centrica seem to be making record profits which are then passed on to their shareholders.

borstalgran Wed 13-Jul-11 09:01:21

I paid 6.25% of my income into a pension, my employer 13.5. We tax payers pay 31.6% of their salary into MPs pensions. Don't see them looking for cuts.
I am lucky to have an indexed linked pension, I accept that. Isn't it time we brought our pensions up to European standards in both public and private sector? Seems this lot want to bring us down to the lowest common denominator, rather than seeking a good deal for all. the public sector is more unionised, so has more clout, something Vince cable wants to stop. Unions can do a good job; the younger generation have forgotten about their role in employees' rights, so find unionisation an expensive luxury they don't need.
My older daughter has no pension as yet; can't afford it, but she should have no choice but to pay in. We are living in what will be our children's pension pot. Hope it's worth something when we shuffle off!

absentgrana Wed 13-Jul-11 11:37:19

Joan Thanks for that information, but I am already entitled to a state pension in the UK – one of the very last women to get it just after my sixtieth birthday. I shall not, of course, be entitled to a state pension in New Zealand, if I ever get the visa. I don't understand why I am not entitled to the increases in state pension that I would get automatically if I were still living in the UK. Sorry – having trouble with tenses and conditionals here.

sylvia2036 Sun 17-Jul-11 16:44:20

May I ask why we are asking a Labour spokeswoman anything? Her party have already had a good go at pensions already (to the detriment of many people), they are not in power (and hopefully won't be for a long time) and therefore will not be in a position to do anything about pensions, or anything else for that matter, for a very long time.

I know I'm probably risking the wrath of a lot of people for posting the above but sorry ladies, it's how I feel and I have kept it short.

JessM Sun 17-Jul-11 17:02:27

Maybe the government spokes-person too busy. Often the way.

Gally Mon 18-Jul-11 12:41:56

Well said Sylvia!smile

helshea Mon 18-Jul-11 13:20:48

Dear spokesperson, How much exactly will your private pension be when you retire?

sylvia2036 Mon 18-Jul-11 14:06:15

Thank you Gally
helshea Well said.

Nellsy Wed 20-Jul-11 16:40:56

Well done helshea, I dont think we will get an answer to that!

Having said that I do think the pension system had to change. I am included in the change and have to wait another 1 year and 8 months for my pension. All women around the age of 50-60 are the group most suffering with this.

beolivia Thu 21-Jul-11 20:32:13

Although I am 68 I expect to work until I am at least 70 as my pension is very low. After living abroad for many years I returned to the UK when I was 55 and eventually found work, since when I save as much as possible to try and provide for my retirement but feel I am being silly in trying to behave responsilbly and would be better off spending everything I earn and expecting the state to provide!

Barrow Sat 23-Jul-11 09:17:26

I have to say I agree with beolivia to some extent. Those of us who have been responsible and tried to make provision for our old age are being penalised whilst those who spent every penny they had as and when they got it can sit back whilst the state looks after them. I know there will be many disagreeing with these thoughts, but as I have mentioned before my biggest expenditure is Council Tax which I have no control over and with which I can get no help because I have savings over a certain amount, yet those who have not saved and who receive pension credits and other benefits can have a higher weekly income that I do and still get help with Council Tax. Yes I know some people didn't earn enough to save for their retirement and I have no problem with them receiving all the help they can get but we all know people who are happy to sit back and let the state pay for everything. I am sorely tempted to book a cruise and spend all my money so the state can then look after me!!!!

Sorry that was a bit of a rant but it is something I feel strongly about.

grandmabet Tue 26-Jul-11 10:11:57


I do so agree with you about the inequality of everyone receiving the same pension regardless of how much they have paid into it. I suppose it will be fair in the long run, but it is somewhat galling to think that someone who worked very little outside the home will receive the same pension as those of us who worked our socks off both inside and outside. The trouble with all these things is that there has to be a cut off point and nobody seems able to work out a fair system. Bit like my friend who is almost 60 and expected to receive her pension but has been told she has to wait another 2 years!

absentgrana Tue 26-Jul-11 10:24:23

grandmabet On the face of it, it does seem unfair, but then when you think about people (mainly women) who have cared for a disabled child and/or elderly relative and so were unable to go out to work …

grandmabet Tue 26-Jul-11 10:31:48

Another thing which worries me is the uncertainty about private pensions in these uncertain times. Are there any safeguards in place if a company's pension plan collapses? DH has a pension and we keep on receiving letters from the company which, when reading between the lines, indicate that it could well go bust. Do we have any redress anywhere?

NanaTee Tue 26-Jul-11 10:31:56

I have worked while raising a family & paid a "reduced stamp" a married women's stamp since 1974. Friends who have paid a full stamp for a short while & then given up work have claimed credits for their years of childcare & now earn a full Pension in their own right. This does not seem fair. I have offered to pay a top up but this is not allowed. I understand that there are about 300,000 Women who may be similarly affected. How will this be dealt with under the new Pension arrangements?