Pensioners have been left in limbo by the hung parliament election result, with any proposed changes put on hold until a government is formed.
The Conservatives, who were expected to win a solid majority, wanted to scrap the Triple Lock which that the state pension would rise by whichever is the highest of inflation, wage growth or 2.5%, and replace it with a ‘Double Lock’ which would remove the 2.5% annual rise. Under a Conservative government, the state pension age would increase with life expectancy.
They also planned to means-test the Winter Fuel Allowance, which is worth up to £300 a year for older people to help with their heating costs. However, now that the party has failed to win a majority, they may find it difficult to proceed with any of these plans.
Triple Lock and Winter Fuel Allowance
The Conservatives are working towards doing a deal with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to form a government, who want to maintain both the Triple Lock and the Winter Fuel Allowance.
Theresa May has repeatedly refused to commit to keeping the state pension’s “triple lock” in the Conservatives’ general election manifesto.
The lock, which Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, confirmed would be retained by his party guarantees that the state pension increases by at least 2.5 per cent annually.
But when asked by Angus Robertson, the SNP leader in Westminster, whether the triple lock would survive post-election, Ms May replied: “I’ve been very clear that under this Government we have seen pensioners benefit as a result of what we’ve done to the basic state pension to the tune of £1,250 a year.
Speaking during the final Prime Minister’s Questions of this Parliament before the general election, Ms May continued: “I am clear under Conservative Government incomes would continue to increase”.
Mr Roberston continued: “I asked the Prime Minister a pretty simple question – it’s a yes or a no and the Prime Minister failed to answer. Pensioners right across this land are right to conclude that this Tory Prime Minister plans to ditch the triple lock on state pensions.
We here at the Bus passes Blog are simple men, but are already getting tired of the seemingly pointless discussions on this topic. This arises from the foolhardy notion of voting in a referendum on the following questions:
The EU Referendum ballot paper.
It has as much sense as asking someone “would you like to sell me your car? – decide yes or no.” Any sensible person would respond to such a question “what are you offering to tempt me to part with my car?” and would laugh out loud if the response to that was “we’ll tell you that once you have made a decision.”
All the government can do now, having induced the voters to agree to leave the EU club, is try to negotiate the best terms possible, knowing that the other side is aware that you are going to leave anyway. So why should we offer you a special price – other than that European businesses want to sell their goods in the UK just as much as the reverse.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has accused the Conservatives of doing the ‘bare minimum’ for older people and of ‘shameful’ treatment of pensioners.
In the run up to the general election in June a key battleground is over the state pension, with Labour pledging to keep the triple lock on the state pension but the Tories yet to make a commitment to this.
SNP MP for Ross Skye and Lochaber Ian Blackford has today claimed the Tory Party is u-turning on the triple lock and depriving pensioners of support.
‘The Tories have turned their back on our older people,’ he said.
‘As well as potentially u-turning on the triple lock on the state pension, they have done absolutely nothing to encourage older people to claim the vital financial support they are entitled to. Instead, the Tories are happy to let almost £300 million sit in the Treasury’s coffers rather than try and get extra support to those who need it.’
Our comment: We try to be non political, but will bring you news affecting pensioners from all political parties.
he Government’s flagship triple lock that protects pensioners’ incomes could be scrapped after the next General Election because people are living longer, Phillip Hammond has revealed.
The lock was introduced in 2012 and guarantees that the state pension rises each year by whichever of price inflation, average earnings growth or 2.5 per cent is highest.
The Chancellor yesterday said that the state pension will continue to rise until at least 2020 but suggested that changes may be needed after that to “tackle the challenge of rising longevity”.
It comes after growing fears over “intergenerational fairness” as pensioners have been sheltered from the impact of austerity cuts while working age poverty increases.
Guaranteed rises in the state pension should be scrapped according to a damning report by an all-party committee of MPs, which claims the British economy has become “heavily skewed” towards well-off baby boomers.
A millennial and a baby boomer trade places: ‘I can’t help but feel a stab of envy’
Following an inquiry into intergenerational fairness, the Commons work and pensions committee, chaired by influential welfare reformer Frank Field, said the “triple lock” guarantee on the state pension should be axed as it is “unfair and unsustainable”.
Under the triple lock, pensions have risen every year since 2010 by – whichever is the higher figure – the rate of inflation, average earnings or a minimum of 2.5%. This has lifted many pensioners out of poverty but the committee said it has resulted in the over-65s taking an “ever greater share of national income”.
After housing costs, average pensioner household incomes now exceed those of working-age people, said the report. “The millennial generation, born between 1981 and 2000, faces being the first in modern times to be financially worse off than its predecessors,” it added.
There is concern that patients in County Durham have not been notified that GPs must now ask a private company to decide on referrals to specialists.
North Durham Clinical Commissioning Group has awarded a contract to About Health, which will advise on the best way to manage a range of conditions.
A local MP said it was “disgraceful” the system had been put in place without a public consultation.
Health bosses said the move would save money, and GPs had been consulted.
Under the contract, doctors across north Durham will write to About Health for advice on whether a patient should be sent to a specialist or whether they should try other treatments.
Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has called for the contract to be cancelled
The conditions include cardiology, gynaecology, dermatology, or gastroenterology, but will not relate to suspected cancer or other urgent cases.
Durham Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has said that taking the GPs’ right to refer away is wrong and wants the contract immediately scrapped.
She said: “It is absolutely disgraceful that they have gone ahead with this with no public consultation.
“I am going to demand that the put a halt on this … because I honestly believe it could compromise patient safety.”
A “one-size-fits-all” approach to the state pension with a “universal” age at which all UK workers can retire could be scrapped, says Sky News.
Will you have to work until you’re 75 or older to claim state pension?
It’s one of the options submitted to a review of pension age policy that has been put up for public consultation.
The proposal would mean “those who start work at 16 or who work in manual jobs” could get earlier access to their pension, says the BBC. Varying pension ages could also be set in different parts of the country to reflect significant disparities in life.
John Cridland CBE, the State Pension age independent reviewer, has called on the public and representative bodies to have their say as he publishes an interim report on ensuring the State Pension age remains affordable and fair for all beyond 2028.
Mr Cridland was appointed as the government’s independent reviewer of State Pension age in March and will deliver his final recommendations next year.
John Cridland said:
The future of the State Pension age is a hugely important issue for this country. It must be fair and sustainable, and reflect changes in society. My interim report provides an insight into my developing thinking and poses a number of questions.
Whatever recommendations I decide to make in my final report, they will be underpinned by the importance of effective communications about the State Pension age. People need to be able to plan effectively for their own retirement.
The review continues to gather evidence to inform its recommendations and the views of the public will form a key part of that data. I want to encourage as many people as possible to respond to the consultation and really hope to stimulate wider discussion.
The Government is pledging £5 billion of public money to increase housebuilding after Theresa May called for an end to the UK’s “homes deficit”.
Ministers will set aside £2 billion of new public borrowing to fund an Accelerated Construction Scheme to make public land with planning permission available to builders.
Meanwhile a £3 billion homebuilding fund using previously-announced cash will provide loans to stimulate new building projects where finances are tight.
Chancellor Philip Hammond and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid set out details of the funds at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham on Monday.
But Housing Minister Gavin Barwell on Sunday signaled that council housing was unlikely to be a major beneficiary of the cash. He told fringe meeting at the conference that Labour’s policy of building more council homes would increase the gap between people who owned homes and those who didn’t.
Ministers also unveiled new reforms to the planning system, with a “de facto” presumption in favour of brownfield housebuilding to drive up density and provide a targeted 21,000 homes by 2021.
Last July the Chancellor made changes to inheritance tax
His intention to lift all but the wealthiest homeowners out of inheritance tax was first revealed when sensitive Treasury papers were leaked to the Guardian before the last budget, which concluded that it would “most likely benefit high income and wealthier households”.
The changes are estimated to cost the Exchequer about £1bn per year.
Our comment:It is difficult to reconcile the fact that so few lower income people will benefit from the inheritance tax changes and so many people with lower incomes, including disabled people will stand to lose from expenditure cuts.
A Conservative cabinet minister suggested getting pensioners to pick fruit and vegetables below the minimum wage instead of hiring Bulgarians and Romanians at the legal rate, a former Lib Dem coalition colleague has claimed.
David Laws, who lost his seat at last year’s general election, revealed the episode in a new book about his days in government, saying the plan was hatched by Owen Paterson, the then environment secretary. The account is disputed by Paterson but Laws alleges that his former Tory colleague came up with the idea after proposing to end a scheme bringing over migrants from Bulgaria and Romania to work in the fields of British farmers.
In his book, serialised in the Mail on Sunday, Laws says: “When a colleague suggested the move would be unpopular with farmers, who would no longer find it easy to employ cheap labour for the back-breaking work, defiant Mr Paterson replied: ‘Oh, but I’ve thought of that, I think I have the answer. We’ll try to get more British pensioners picking some of the fruit and vegetables in the fields instead. Of course, getting pensioners to do this work could lead to an increase in farmers’ costs. After all, they may be a bit slower doing the work. I’ve thought of that too. We might arrange to exempt British pensioners from the minimum-wage laws, to allow them to do this work.’”
Most of the national newspapers carry stories of the unhappiness of many people with the way in which the pension age is being raised to age 67.
The Daily Telegraph says Women are being “shafted and short-changed” by a decision to accelerate the rate at which the state pension age.
The Sunday Times mentions the case of 2 sisters aged 19 months apart where the elder of the 2 has to wait 4 1/2 years longer than he elder sister.
The Guardian says :
Ministers accused of ‘mis-selling’ during debate over women’s pensions
MPs queued up to criticise government at Westminster Hall meeting to discuss pension-age increases that were described as ‘cruel and heartless’
The independant says Campaigners have claimed a major victory after MPs unanimously voted by 158 to 0 to help women hit by state pension age rises.
Our readers have been expressing their dissatisfaction with the raising the state pension age for a long time. It is no wonder George Osborne likes the changes as it is saving the government a fortune
How much will these changes save?
The proposals in the Pensions Bill are estimated to save £30bn in benefit payments and make a further £8.1bn in tax and National Insurance receipts under the proposed timetable.