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?