One of the standards by which any society measures its decency is its generosity towards the old. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, harped on this theme at the weekend, announcing that pensions would rise by at least 2.5 per cent a year over the next parliament if he were re-elected in 2015. “In a civilised society, knowing you’re going to have a decent state pension is a really powerful thing,” he said.
A whiff of political calculation naturally accompanies the Prime Minister’s moral fervour concerning the need to grant people “dignity and security in their old age”. With the next general election less than a year-and-a-half away and with the Conservatives still lagging behind Labour in the polls – although by a smaller margin than a few months ago – Mr Cameron’s strategists are urging him to hunt down the one in three people who voted Conservative in 2010 but who do not plan to do so in 2015, according to the most recent polls.
The importance of pensioners as a voting bloc, meanwhile, has increased with every election, as the number of pensioners continues to rise both absolutely and proportionally. Already, 10 million Britons, or one in six of the population, are over the age of 65, while that number is expected to reach 19 million, or about one in four, by 2050. Back in 1908, when Britain introduced pensions, only half a million people were deemed eligible to receive them, although the age threshold, admittedly, was then set at 70.
Political strategists are also aware that pensioners also vote more than other age groups. In the 2010 election, 76 per cent of over-65s cast votes, compared with only 44 per cent of those aged 18 to 24.
Pension protection doesn’t go far enough – The Independent
And according to The Times today thr Prime Minister “is minded to renew the commitment he made in the TV debates in 2010 to ensure that all pensioners receive a host of benefits regardless of their wealth and despite Cabinet opposition.”
We wouldn’t like to be smug but a year on with an election a lot nearer, our comment in January 2013 was:
“It seems that promises made at the last election by David Cameron is playing a major role in preventing withdrawal of a number of ‘universal pensioner benefits’ at the present time. This will be an interesting issue at the next election – on the one hand politicians may wish to be very careful what they promise, but on the other politicians may not be able to ignore the fact that in 2015 there are expected to be 12.8 million people aged 65 and over, i.e approx 25% of the people at voting age – a very powerful group.”