The Conservative Party has long seen itself as a champion of older people. It prides and preens itself as a supporter of British values. This has kept it in power through the last two general elections, propped up by the votes of the majority of elderly people, who tend to vote and vote conservatively.
One of the central policies related to older people, has been the ” triple lock” on the state pension and the enticing pot of gold elusively placed at the end of the rainbow — The new £155 pension.
So far we have only seen the rain !
The storey of this unbelievably big rise in pensions has carried the Conservatives through two General Elections on a wave of hope and anticipation. I first started blogging about it in 2010. ( see all my earlier posts by clicking on pensions in the Topics list )
I always knew it was too good to be true and through the rainstorm of austerity in the last five years, the rainbow has started to disappear. It is vanishing with each step into every puddle of bad news :-
- First of all, although announced in 2010, the commencement date of this wonderful bounty was put back to 2015, then 2016 .
- As the detail became clearer, it was obvious that it would only apply to NEW pensioners, leaving those who were already retired and those who would be before April 2016, to be left out in the rain.
- Next came an even deeper puddle. You needed an extended 36 years of contributions to qualify for the full pension. This short-changes many people approaching retirement – especially women who have had career breaks to bring up families.
- The unrelenting rain got heavier still as savings rates plunged almost to nothing.
- To make matters worse, by the time you finally got your pension pot of gold, annuity rates have reduced by almost 50 percent since the recession started.
When the new pension begins in April this year relatively few pensioners will benefit from it and a two tier system will have been set up which will enshrine inequality for years to come. Many grey voters may no longer feel Conservatives can be trusted, but do they have an alternative.
I venture we will hear a lot more about pensions in the year ahead.