My thoughts on Pension Proposals

by Sandie

I have just read unending posts on Citywire regarding the "freeze" on the SP for pensioners living abroad that included a long debate as to whether the state can actually afford State Pensions.

What interested me in these multiple posts, including those from George Morley and other knowledgeable gentlemen, yes, all male, is that they all agreed that we, as pensioners, who have "paid it forward", are legally entitled to a pay-out that reflects our investment (by way of NI contributions).

This is my belief also. Surely this is fair and right, yet all of the ministers, MPs, DWP officials etc. including IDS & Steve Webb, who I have corresponded with, always respond with the same stock answers:

A. We can't afford it
B. We have to (deprive you and) focus our funds on protecting “Those Most Vulnerable”!

Whereas I am in agreement with B in principle, this same, now very familiar anecdote, has become just a way to try to play on one’s guilt complex, fob you off, and steer you away from the real crux of the matter.

Savings Credit
How does the govt think it can justify operating a system at the expense of others, whose income, albeit slightly above the Pension Credit thresholds, is reduced below poverty level due to the related means’ testing for rent, within which there is no protection for one’s savings, via Savings’ Credit, until age 65, and thus leaves you actually worse off than “Those Most Vulnerable”! So those like me must be the “Even More Vulnerable”! But worse is to come! They are stopping Savings Credit altogether! So it looks like the “Even More Vulnerable” will always be so!

My main beef is that having retired at 60 with 84% State Pension, which I am still challenging, and a Works' Pension, I was not able to benefit from the additional allowance that Savings Credit provides to help with rent, for five years.

As a result, although I had income that exceeded the means testing, I was made financially worse off during my first 5 years of retirement than someone who is below the threshold and gets full benefits. But when I point this out I'm told they "can't afford" to pay out any more than they do.

In fact, when this legislation was debated, they made up a ridiculous excuse* for setting the age at 65, see below, but it is also recorded that they said they "couldn't afford to make this protection available to women at age 60!" This amounts to a loss of about £5,000 of one’s savings!

*For those interested the excuse went like this:
A man and a woman retire at age 60 with a work/private pension of £80 a week. The man would be under the threshold and therefore would qualify for Savings Credit as he wouldn’t get his State Pension until age 65, but the woman, already receiving both, would be over the limit and would not get it! Therefore this would upset women!

What they fail to address is that:
(A) This same “issue” would exist for Guarantee Pension Credit, which is available at age 60
(B) Women aren’t so stupid as to feel disadvantaged under these circumstances
(C) It is in fact women, retiring at 60, who’d suffer the huge loss of having 5 years with no protection for their savings

In my search for past cases similar to my own, which relates to the legislation on substitution, the freeze issue is always coming up, but my issue cannot be found anywhere! Is this because it mainly only affects females?

Same Pension for All!
If all pensioners were treated equally I would now more than qualify for a full pension, but we aren’t, so I must continue to fight for fairness and justice in the application of the old rules. If nothing changes I will receive around £60.00 a week less than new pensioners for the same amount of NI contributions and number of years worked! That is totally unacceptable.

The govt, in response to anything I have asked regarding my situation and how badly I have been affected by various bits of legislation, will always come back with the same excuse - that they cannot afford it (whatever "it" happens to be!) and point out what wonderful changes they have made! (That don’t apply to all of us anyway!)

I have conducted a lot of research during my quest to try to get the State Pension I should have, and have often stumbled across information that tells me that the govt will simply do and say anything to get out of giving pensioners a fair deal.

If I could have got another job after being made redundant at age 60 I'd have continued working, but it seems no one wants to have to work with older women! So all that I'd saved for my retirement has now gone, and I am still fighting, five years later, to get my pension calculated fairly!
(This is due to misinterpretation of legislation on substitution.)

I first started earning my keep at the age of ten, and the only time throughout the next fifty years that I did not earn was whilst caring for my kids. During that time my ex-spouse's record should have protected me when HRP did not, but that is not what has happened!

I now feel cheated, defrauded and under-valued for what is a lifetime's contribution to society. Not a good way to see out the remaining years of your life!

Am I to be cast aside and thrown on the rubbish heap just because these issues only, or mainly, affect females? And this is despite the govt knowing full well how women pensioners have suffered since the 1960s’ rise in divorces.

They acknowledged that over fifty years ago yet have waited till now to act! And then excluded those born before 1950! The Baby-boomer generation has now peaked so there are less newer pensioners to pay, and those in the older category can just take a hike!

The inequalities now affecting pensioners are blatant discrimination and against our Human Rights. However, interestingly, when the Savings Credit issue was looked at in these terms, it was found not to be! Very odd! An illegal ruling if ever I saw one! Needs to be overturned.

I get the impression that we pensioners are thought of as totally dumb and ignorant with the responses we are given! For example, that we are so fortunate to have the "triple lock", when we know this will shortly end up being less than the previous link to RPI!

Under the Equalities' Act we must all be treated equally, so how is the govt getting away with breaking these laws? Let's get this sorted!

Anyone who feels unsure about any aspect of their pension please get in touch with me as I am now pretty much an expert!

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