Are Pensioners Right To Be Angry?
I spent this morning with a group of pensioners in Ecton Brook who made it very clear why they are angry not only about the “Granny Tax”, but even more so about being ignored and treated with contempt and fools by the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Government.
I don’t think I’ve ever known the older generation to be so annoyed and if you or they really want to find out what the elderly think just try explaining that the Conservative Government are not really out of touch.
So why are pensioners so angry if as David Cameron said over the Easter weekend “pensions have gone up by £5.30 the largest cash rise in history which is proof of this Government’s commitment to the elderly”.
Northampton pensioners I talk to point out that the inflation rate on which their pension increase is based was for last year when it was over 5% so they had increased prices and costs throughout the year to pay as fuel and food prices increased.
They also pointed out that last year their rents increased by an average of £4 a week which is not included in the inflation figure of 5% so in reality from their basic pension of £102.15 they had to find an extra £4 + 5% inflation or £9 a week just to stand still.
This year the basic pension has increased to £107.45, so the £5.30 in effect only balances out just over half of the past year’s increased costs.
The Government of course say that pensioners will have more money in their purses and wallets to spend without any understanding that they will be able to buy even less with it, but then 5% inflation doesn’t really affect millionaires does it and certainly not Cabinet members.
What Conservatives will point to is the decrease in the “rate of inflation” to 3%.
Once again they don’t seem to understand that whilst the “rate of inflation” is coming down, the increases in fuel, utilities and food over the past two years isn’t coming down and pensioners and others on fixed incomes with no opportunity to increase it are struggling to make ends meet.
But we are giving them a pension increase of £5.30; they should be grateful say the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.
What those I met with this morning told me was that their rents this year have risen by £5.50 (in line with the Government directives to the Borough Council), add this to 3% inflation and what it means in real terms is pensioners having to find an extra £264 a year for rent and another £170 to counter inflation, a total real cut in income of £434 a year, or £8.50 a week.
Add to that the threat of “Granny Tax 2” with advisers to George Osborne proposing to tax pensions at source which would cut the pensions of those who are paying the basic rate of tax to £85.96 then you can fully understand why those who have worked hard all of their lives, paid their taxes and raised their families are now convinced that the Government is completely out of touch with ordinary people.
Worse still is that they cannot understand why the rich and those earning over £150,000 a year have just been handed a £14,000 a year pay rise with the cut in the top rate of tax from 50% to 45%, the equivalent to three pensioners state pensions, and just to compound their anger they cannot belive that George Osborne is “shocked” that millionaires are paying only 10% tax made even worse by his statement “that they should pay at least the minimum of 30%”!!
No-one I spoke to minds people doing well or making money but they are angry that the rich are almost given carte-blanche to avoid paying the right level of tax.
It is not only pensions that the elderly are angry about, it is also how their families are being squeezed by the Conservatives failing economic policies that has resulted in the highest level of unemployment for 18 years including the highest level of youth unemployment for over 60 years.
So “are pensioners right to be angry.”
Absolutely and I certainly wouldn’t disagree with them except in one aspect.
The middle is not so much being squeezed by the coalition Government, a squeeze being something people expected given the world-wide economic recession but are instead being throttled by a Government whose whole policy of reducing the deficit and National Debt is focussed solely on the numbers without any regard for the human consequences.
The perception that this is a Government of the wealthy has now become reality and the views of the pensioners I met this morning are shared by millions up and down the country and is something all of the Conservatives PR and Marketing approach both nationally and locally will be unable to overcome now that people of woken up to the shallowness of the Governments commitment to ordinary hard-working people.
Only Labour is Listening not only in Northampton but up and down the Country.