Fred Robson here – it isn’t often that we write off the topics of bus passes and pensioners benefits, though noting the ongoing interest in my last effort on Recycle coal dust and make the Winter Fuel Allowance go further in 2011 I have decided to offer my take on Barbecues for Vegetarians, due in no small part to my wife being a vegetarian, and myself a keen meat eater who also appreciates plenty of veg in the diet.
Doubtless there are many recipes and instructions available on-line (Jamie Oliver describes his as The Ultimate vegetarian BBQ but my menus are very flexible as to which vegetables should be used. I’m taking more about cooking technique which can offer excellent results. The cooking method is very much around using foil containers which can be purchsed very cheaply from suppliers such as Wilko or can be recycled from your takeaway meals.
A good variety of vegetables are needed for my solution, including onions,tomatoes, baby sweetcorn, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, mange tout peas, broad beans, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, courgettes, aubergines – in fact any that you happen to have to hand.
Step 3 Fill the trays with veg fairly full, mixing different veg in a random way
Step 4 Sprinkle herbs and seasoning to taste
Step 5 Add garlic to suit your taste
Step 6 Seal the foil containers with the lids, silvery side down
Step 7 Place the foil trays on the BBQ at a fairly early stage, but aiming as far as possible to cook slowly as far as possible. This way your veg can be served in their natural juices.
A bit of trial and error will improve your technique and avoid to much ‘caramelisation’ !
One other important tip – don’t regard this as something just for vegetarians, as your family /guests will come to appreciate this alternative method of enjoying veg alongside their meat.
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.
We are surprised that subjecting pensioners to new means tests is being suggested for the Winter Fuel Allowance which may require an army of means testers. It would also subject many pensioners to a process that they feel very uncomfortable with. Our suggestion for a long time has been to make WFA subject to taxation in the same way as the State Pension is. We’ve never heard anyone complaining that the very wealthy enjoy the State Pension, so what is the problem with taxing Winter Fuel Allowance? The answer that many may give is that a lot of people will be affected by this, without necessarily being on a massive income. But at least the most needy would get the pension in full, and it would stop the continual bleating about this allowance being paid tax free.
Free TV licences for the over-75s could be means-tested once the BBC takes over responsibility for paying for them from the Government.
The benefit is currently universally available for all aged 75 and older, meaning that one in six households or around 4.36 million people do not pay the annual licence of £147.
But the BBC is considering scrapping this benefit for better-off pensioners, who have just learned that if the Conservatives win the general election, they could have to pay significant amounts towards the cost of their social care from savings and the value of their homes.
Supporters of the BBC, including Lord Melvyn Bragg and Lord Puttman, are reported to believe that Theresa May’s manifesto pledge to means-test the winter fuel allowance is an opportunity for the corporation to do the same with the free licences.
Lord Bragg, who voluntarily pays the licence as part of a campaign to encourage wealthy pensioners to support the BBC, told The Sunday Times he thought means-testing would be “a very sensible idea”.
There are a lot of comfortably off pensioners. And lots of poor ones. And there are a lot better ways of finding money for elderly care than Theresa May’s manifesto commitment to whipping the houses off people who need care at home.
Under the Conservative’s plan, people needing either domiciliary (aka at-home) or residential care will have to pay for everything until the value of their assets, including their home, is down to £100,000. The Tories promise that no one will be forced to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care, with the cost instead deferred and taken from their estate after death.
The plan is superficially seductive. The older generation have benefitted from spectacular – and largely unearned – increases in the value of their property. Why should younger working people, through income tax, pay for the galloping costs of elderly care when they can’t even dream of affording to buy a home themselves? Doesn’t it make more sense to instead take the money out of the congealed wealth sitting in property? And, indeed, there can be no justification for the state protecting the inheritances of the well off by taxing hard-pressed working people.
But there are two major drawbacks. Firstly, there is the risk that the elderly will delay seeking support at home because they won’t want to enter into a domiciliary care plan involving a charge on their property. They won’t get early treatment and will fall on the NHS.
The second drawback is more serious. No one chooses Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s – they choose you. Health inevitably deteriorates in old age, but the conditions that will result in intensive care costs, whether domiciliary or residential, are largely random. A quarter of the over-85s are likely to develop dementia and a third will need constant care. But that leaves large numbers not in need of intensive care. Indeed, only one in eight over-85s are in care homes.
We don’t for a moment think that someone in their 50s with breast cancer should have a lien put upon their home to pay for their care. We share the risk by paying through our taxes for the NHS and community care services. Why, then, should we think that a random third of the over-85s should have charges added to their homes but the other two-thirds not?
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the increasing cost of care for the elderly needs to be found somewhere, and it would be unfair for the young to shoulder all the burden.
One of the oddities of the tax system is that we stop paying 12% national insurance on our earnings once we reach state pension age. The idea is that NI is basically a savings system that pays for our pensions, so once we’re in receipt of a pension we stop paying in. But NI, when first set up, was a system of insurance against illness and unemployment. If NI is supposed to help fund the NHS and care services, there is no reason why pensioners – the better off at least – shouldn’t be paying it, albeit at a reduced rate.
Proposals effecting pensioners are coming thick & fast from the Tory Manifesto. Our resident pundits Ted & Fred discuss some major issues on using the value of your property to pay.
As clear as I can remember it, this is a fragment of conversation between two elderly ladies I overheard last week on the number 737 bus, which runs from Bradford Interchange through Shipley, Guiseley and Yeadon to terminate at Leeds-Bradford Airport.
“They’re coming after your bus pass next.”
“The Tories. They want to end free buses for all old folks. They’re saying it costs too much. I read it somewhere.”
“Well, I certainly won’t vote for them if that’s their game. It’s getting terrible. They don’t want pensioners any more.”
The women were not on their way to the airport to jet off to the sun. They were just using their bus passes to get to the nearest supermarket. The 737 is a vital lifeline for them, since more and more small shops keep closing. As far as I know, however, the Conservatives have not said they intend to withdraw or cut back on the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme. At least, not officially.
The scheme gives free off-peak, weekend and bank holiday journeys to anyone of pensionable age, as well as eligible disabled people. But in their eternal, sleepless quest to cut back on government spending the Conservatives are clearly discussing the possibility of undoing what even Tony Blair’s harshest critics grudgingly admit was one of the great achievements of his last government.
It was introduced in 2008 and currently costs around £1.2 billion a year to fund. There are just under 10 million users and the average cost per person each year is £120. Four-fifths of those people who are eligible actually use a pass, and the scheme is credited with keeping many bus routes viable. If travel pass eligibility were to cease or be restricted, it would lead to bus timetable cutbacks.
Since the election in 2015 some Conservative MPs have begun muttering about the need to reduce the amount of money it costs. Andrew Mitchell, he of the Plebgate affair – which saw him allegedly engage in a foul-mouthed altercation with police guarding the gates to Downing Street – told a TV interviewer at last year’s Tory conference that the passes should be means tested. It raised eyebrows at the time, because no one in the Conservative Party was talking openly about restricting pensioners’ benefits.
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:
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.
Thousands of over-60s normally eligible for free bus travel could now have to pay to ride due to a massive backlog in renewing permits.
People are facing delays of up to 28 days as Lincolnshire County Council deals with 6,000 applications a month rather than the usual 1,200 to 1,500.
This is because 67,000 passes are due to expire this year and demand is high despite the council advising people as early as last autumn to apply six months before expiry dates. It normally takes up to 10 days to issue a renewed pass.
Read more at http://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/thousands-of-over-60s-face-waiting-up-to-28-days-for-free-bus-pass-renewal-in-lincolnshire/story-30285097-detail/story.html#hMQ2ggA5ytRMqJUD.99