The Conservative party has long seen itself as a champion of older people. It prides and preens itself as a supporter of traditional British values. This has kept it in power for the last two general elections propped up by the votes of the majority of elderly people.
One of the centrepiece policies has been the security of the triple lock on the state pension. Coupled with the additional pot of gold elusively placed at the end of the rainbow – the £155 pound pension.
So far we have just had the rain !
The story of this big rise in pensions has carried the Conservatives through two elections on a wave of hope. I first started talking about it in 2010 (see my earlier blogs by clicking on ‘ Pensions ‘ in the topics list).
I always knew it was too good to be true and through the rain storm of austerity over the last 5 years the rainbow has started to disappear. It is vanishing with each step in each puddle :-
- The commencement date of this wondrous bounty was put back until 2016;
- Then as the details became clearer, it was obvious it would only apply to new pensioners, leaving those who were already retired or would be retired before 2016 left out in the rain;
- An even deeper puddle was that you needed an extended number of years of contributions to qualify for the full pension. Which leaves people approaching retirement, especially women who have had career breaks to bring up families, inadequate time to top up their contributions;
- Then the rain got heavier still as savings rates plunged almost to nothing;
- And by the time you got your pension pot of gold, annuity rates had tumbled by 50% , so you got far less annual income if you cashed it in;
- Meanwhile the Chancellor has progressively been reducing the maximum size of the pension pot from£1.25 million to £1,000,000. This only affects the wealthiest retirees but they still vote;
Finally, for now, the triple lock is under threat and may be removed after the next general election. Also, the treasury is rumoured to be considering removing high rate tax relief on pension contributions, which affects a smaller group of higher earners, albeit not until they retire.
Wonderful how politicians get lost in a world of double speak about how much they have done for older people. Pensions in the U.K. are among the lowest in Europe and there are still far too many older pensioners, particularly women living below the poverty line.
Right now all the talk is about Brexit, but before the next general election the new pension will in place for a few people.
Our new Prime Minister had better stop believing her parties political spin about pensions and start listening to pensioners ! Otherwise she may find the rain washes votes away.