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This letter from Shelagh Simmons, Coordinator of the Solent WASPI Supporters’ Group, Southampton, Portsmouth, Winchester, South Hampshire & the Isle of Wight. Ed
Authors of a recent report from the House of Lords Select Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision claim it is more nuanced than has been presented. But while the mainstream media headline grabbing ‘end pensioner benefits to help the young’ is, of course, meant to be provocative, that is indeed its general thrust.
Not a question of old versus young
Following publication of the Select Committee’s report, a national newspaper poll asked readers to say which pensioner ‘benefit’ they would, or would not, give up to help the younger generation. We wholly reject this question because it is based on a false premise.
In a country as wealthy as the UK, where there is more than enough to go round, it is not a question of ‘either/or’, old v young.
It is a question of rich and poor. There are far too many poor people in ALL age groups and that is where the focus should be. It should not be on pitting one generation against another.
Abrahams: Significant numbers of very poor older people missing out
As Charity Director for Age UK, Caroline Abrahams, points out:
“Young people may need more help, but we disagree that this should be at the expense of the older generation.
“Means-testing, for example, results in significant numbers of very poor older people missing out …… in practice, many at both ends of the age spectrum need our society’s support and an advanced economy like the UK is well placed to provide it.”
1 in 6 pensioners totally reliant on State Pension
According to the Office for National Statistics, one in six pensioners are totally reliant on the State Pension – the highest number for twenty years. Single pensioners are the worst off. And spare a thought for thousands of Islanders – the 1950s born ‘WASPI’ women, who expected to receive their State Pension at 60, only to have it delayed for up to 6 years with little, or no, notice.
They have to survive in the limbo between 60 and their new state pension age, many with no private financial provision after a lifetime of inequality.
Nothing for the future
Even those who have managed to save a little for retirement are having to live on that money now, leaving nothing for the future.
And on 15th May, new Pension Credit rules come into force that will hit new claimants in the poorest mixed-age couples.
Inequality inside generations is greater than between
The National Pensioners’ Convention regrets the “strong focus on the need to redistribute both public spending and personal wealth from one generation to another” when “there is considerable evidence that the inequality inside generations is greater than that between generations”.