“The £140 Pension Illusion”

This is a story about the cynicism of politicians and the fickle nature of press reporting.  Sadly it’s about an issue of great importance to the elderly.  The presentation of The Issue has the power to raise and destroy hope in a matter of days with scant regard for peoples’ feelings.

DAY 1, MONDAY  25TH  OCTOBER  2010 THE DAILY MAIL REPORTS:-

“Now you see it”

  • £140 pension for all
  • Historic shake up of state pensions
  • Huge boost for stay at home mums and married couples
  • An end to Means Testing
  • Paid for by cutting bureaucracy

Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, either in a clever sleight of hand which is the hallmark of a great illusion, or in callous disregard of current pensioners, announces a new higher basic pension.

The newspaper’s editorial comment blindly follows the front page lead and swallows the good news, almost hook line and sinker:-

  •  A bold crusade to reform state pensions
  • Hugely enhanced weekly payments
  • 40% increase for single pensioners
  • Truly whopping 75% increase for married couples
  • Slashing the vast pension bureaucracy

A note of caution to the tale:-

  • Will it all add up; are the sums right?

P.S. Strangely, none of it happens until 2015.   If it is such good news and saves waste and bureaucracy you wonder why not?   It could not be anything to do with wanting to give out good news just before the next General Election, could it?   Meanwhile, deserving pensioners can wait!

Dr Ros Altman, the new Director General of the SAGA organization and an expert on pensions, welcomed the news as “a fantastic reform”.

DAY 2, TUESDAY 26TH THE DAILY MAIL REPORTS:-

“Now you don’t!

The disappearing act.  The Daily Mail wakes up like a drunk with a hangover from yesterday’s celebration.  The headline now reads “Pensions Apartheid”.  It appears that current pensioners will not qualify for the rise to £140 per week.   Neither will those who reach 65 before 2015.   All of them could be £100 a week worse off than the apparently richly rewarded late arrival baby boomer pensioners.

Dr Ros Altman now says, in what sounds a more chastened explanation of her euphoria yesterday: “At least we can take care of the future, even if we cannot take care of the past”.   This is a phrase that is hardly going to endear her to the loads of readers of SAGA magazine.

Neil Duncan-Jordan of the National Pensioners Convention, was closer to the mark when he said “this is outrageous.   The fact is today’s pensioners are those who need most help now”. 

“You can’t possibly have a pensions apartheid where one generation gets one level of pension and another gets less”.

“Women will fare far worse from this, as there are about 5 million who currently don’t have a full state pension.   They are leaving the most vulnerable to suffer”.

Rather more limply, Andrew Harrop, Policy Director at Age UK, said: “It will seem very unfair if you happen to be on the wrong side of the cliff edge”.   This is an unfortunate analogy especially coming from an organization which has done so much to campaign against age discrimination and for equality for women pensioners.

The Daily Mail shows no remorse for yesterday’s headlines, even though they were well and truly fooled by the Government’s initial announcement into believing this was such good news.  On day two they switched sides with the fickleness of a fair-weather friend, or a newspaper chasing tomorrow’s headline.

Meanwhile, a Government spokesman, who obviously doesn’t intend to retire before 2015, said: “our aim will be for a simple, decent state pension for future pensioners”.   Carefully chosen words intended to foster the illusion of a universal benefit for all.   I guess he assumes current pensioners will conveniently fall off the edge of the cliff!

A cruel and callous illusion played on the older war generation of pensioners who will be expected to continue to make sacrifices in the years ahead, unless this shameful policy is changed to include them.

Would you vote for this reform to pensioners?

This entry was posted in ELDERLY UK POLICY, Pensions and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “The £140 Pension Illusion”

  1. David Evans, Cardiff says:

    The Daily Mail is not alone in producing scary headlines to worry older people. At the end of October, I bought the Daily Express because its large front page headline was “New Fear for State Pensions”. When I read the article it was just two accountacy firms quoted as “experts”, speculating on more cuts, without any facts at all.

    Sounds like yet another newspaper chasing circulation without any regard to the distress they cause to their elderly readers.

  2. David Freeman says:

    Pension Illusion
    Politics’. They mean well the politicians but it is the grey men in the back room of government who have to solve the problem? Since my parents day I have grown up in the 60’ 70’s 80’s and 90’s here the drive was to work hard and own your own house, if you were fortunate? Which I suspect most of us are.
    The house represented the future, not necessarily the pension, but to top it up and care and welfare in old age. This was certainly drilled into me by my fathers and my wife’s families.
    In the 90’s and early 2000’s this was driven by the fact of high house prices and one was encouraged not to own one house but to own a second house to rent out for income. This has all turned to dust, about the second house, but the owner is left with a debt on top of which the government of the day borrowed in an extravagant manner so increasing the possible tax burden.
    There is no getting away from the fact that the investment meant for old age to the up and coming generations has diminished to the point of zero, as they have privately invested in property, while the pensions providers/industry have seen a short fall in investment. Something has to give? What is the question? Can you foresee the problems?

    • Jon Cleaver says:

      Hi John
      Jon Cleaver said

      The problem I have with politicians is when in opposition they can say what ever they want without having to implement any action. As soon as they come to power, far removed from the cocoon from whence they came, soon find they have to back track , twist and turn, which usually gets worse as they continue in office.

      The press on the other hand spend time building the ‘opposition’ up, when they gain power they become the Aunt Sally of the fairground; to be knocked off their perch at every opportunity. Another problem, I think, with the press is the fact that the written newspaper is now read less by the public mainly because of the electronic age, so what we find is a headline has to be so outlandish to attract the eye even down to sheer brutality and dishonesty in order to attract its readers. In my view an even bigger problem to factual information lies with the journalists themselves. With knowledge now so freely accessible on the internet, you would think finding the truth would be easier. Unfortunately for some journalists, their research leaves a lot to be desired in accuracy terms, or they do not fully understand the subject. Couple this with the speed they are forced to compete at it is open to inaccuracy on a grand scale.

      There is also the fact that when a journalist writes his piece it goes through several processes before publication, being read and checked and altered, by sub editors who are not adverse to placing their own interpretation on the finished article. At the end of the line a headline is devised with the most eye catching wording. I know of journalists who complain bitterly that they no longer recognise their own work. Couple this with politician’s statements to the press source, quite often vague promises, is it little wonder the press is full of headline grabbing misquotes and innuendo. A friend of Samuel Johnson, John Payne who started the Universal Chronicle a weekly in 1758 said: “A journalist is an historian, not indeed of the highest class, nor of the number of those whose works bestow immortality upon others or themselves; yet, like other historians, he distributes for a time Reputation or infamy, regulates the opinion of the week, raises hopes and terrors, inflames or allays the violence of the people. He ought therefore to consider himself as a subject at least to the first law of history, the obligation to tell the truth.” I wonder just what went wrong.

      Jon Cleaver

      • John says:

        That is a great explanation of the ethics and practice of modern day journalism and goes some way to showing why it is often difficult to believe what you read in the headlines of newspapers. Sadly, these clarion calls are usually raipdly reinforced the 24 hour TV channels with the shallowest of critical analysis. And so the illusion is maintained !
        Politicians understand and cynically exploit this only too well.

  3. Jim says:

    Always jam tomorrow, never jam today

  4. Ron says:

    By the time it comes about we will be long gone !

    • john graham says:

      I know you’re saying that with the benefit of years of experience. If we turn that experience into positive action, I’m sure we can change things for the better – if not for ourselves then at least for the older generations that follow us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s