Tuesday, 13 January 2009


The letters columns are always a good read in our local evening paper. Usually you will get one or more pensioners bemoaning our lot but last week one evening we had three excellent letters on issues that concern pensioners.
Although I do not necessarily agree with all the sentiments raised much of it I empathise with.
“Picking on pensioners” related to the major differences between public and private sector schemes and how much worse of private sector pensioners are. The writer made the point that the average public sector pension this year was £17091 whereas the private sector weighed in with a miserable £1086.
All of the schemes covered by the PPF were of course private sector schemes which were dismal by any standards but with inflation this scheme is now being steadily eroded. Will any of the political parties take this on board? Well not so far but surely someone in government must realise how badly these people are being affected. Well done to the union reps who negotiated the inflation proof deals for public sector but sooner or later these anomalies must be sorted out.
The piece on veteran drivers makes the point that most of us have been driving quite safely for perhaps forty plus years and because we are retired we take our time in getting to where we want to go. The government however now seem hell bent on getting us off the road just because we have reached a certain age. I have felt for some time that this was one of the worst ageist governments of all time and this attack on pensioners is just another in the continued war against pensioners. If we still have our faculties are fit and able to drive safely what indeed as age got to do with it. We as kids when we passed our tests saw the driving licence as a privilege and did not abuse it by going out driving to fast and crashing our cars. Most of us knew that if we did that we would not get another. The majority of us have displayed a responsible attitude to car ownership and driving for our forty plus years behind the wheel. I will know when it is time to give up and I’ll make that decision I don’t need to be wet nursed by our government to get me off the road. I think if they pursue this policy along with the other miserable decisions they have made towards pensioners it will be the final straw for many older traditional labour voters myself included.
Finally “don’t pay into a pension” is relevant to those private sector schemes that do not pay much but take the recipient above the threshold for pension credit. Because of the advantages of getting council tax, dental and optical benefits denied the rest of us.
Many more pensioners are becoming more vocal on issues that affect us. I think this is a good thing. It is particularly sad that most labour politicians think they are doing a wonderful job in respect to us. Sadly the Tories and Lib Dems are of similar mind.
Perhaps it’s time to launch the “Grey Party”

O got my sixty quid today, thanks Gord


margaret macklin said...

A really interesting piece Bob.What is the threshold for private pension? I'm living on and paying tax(and know many others of my age who are) 500 quid a month and struggling to support family.Still shouldnt complain as this is some young peoples(and councillors!?) wage .But we would like to have some sort of benefits when it comes to dentistry ect.When I stopped paying Nat insurance I was told that I had contributed 36 years over my work life.Surely retirement is the time to get some of this back?One other question you knowing about pensioners-am I right in saying people retire at 50 in Europe?best wishes Mad Max

Bob the Black Country Brummie said...

Hi Margaret and thanks for the comment. The council have a welfare rights section who can give you the numbers for threshold. I don't think the retirement at fifty option is common in Europe but some folks do even in this country.