I wrote scathingly about the £140 state pension when it was first heralded as a great step forward by Ian Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. (Click on Pensions under Topics to see more, or find ” the £140 Pension Illusion ” in the TAG CLOUD).
In the Queen’s Speech, at the opening of Parliament on the 9th May 2012, the prospect of this great pot of gold was again held out with an even bigger enticement of £155 per week for a single pensioner and £310 for a married couple. Well above the current £107.45 basic state pension !
I first heard about this too-good-to-be-true proposal when it was announced by Ian Duncan Smith at the Age UK “Later Life” conference in 2011. It takes great confidence to pull off a trick like this in front of a live audience, because what he didn’t make clear was that it did not apply to them. The pensioners in the audience that day were told that it would not be introduced until 2015, but what IDS forgot to mention was that they will not qualify since this big rise will only apply to future retirees. No doubt at the time he saw this as a rather politically inconvenient detail, which was not worth mentioning.
This callous move — if it ever happens at all — will leave current day pensioners on a lower rate state pension, living alongside newer pensioners who will receive the higher rate. In carefully crafted words the Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister said “Our plan will radically simplify the state pension system and set it above the level of the means test, providing a fair and sustainable foundation for pension saving for people of working age.” Presumably that means that it is OK if the system for existing pensioners remains complex and unfair ?
A simple flat rate pension sounds like a good idea, but paying for it almost certainly means that universal pension benefits, like the winter fuel allowance, will be scrapped.
The old trick of giving in one hand and taking away in the other.