Starting today: the Devil in the detail of pensioner destitution, and why ‘reform’ will destroy Britain’s economy in the end
There would be no lo loss of dignity, and there would be no destitution. This is what senior Conservative shadow ministers were still saying during 2009-10 about female State pension age reforms. As The Slog showed yesterday, Whiteminster history on this subject has been a catalogue of blamestorming by those whom we pay to be blamed if they get it wrong. But injustice means very little to the neutrals until the day to day inhumanity of State pension delays is brought to life.
“I am alone, my children have poorly-paid jobs so they can’t help. My savings are almost gone. The house is on the market, but the market is dead. I’m on antidepressants. I keep having to visit the ESA [Employment & Support Allowance] to have my capacity to work assessed. I feel like a beggar being moved on. I brought up three children, and I have a new grandchild. I haven’t bought him a thing. My husband died four years ago before he qualified for a pension. I have hardly anything to live on, and even less to live for. Two years notice of the changes I got. Two years”.
“I haven’t had any meat or Fresh veg now for over a week. During the day I live on toast and that Utterly Butterly stuff. Last week I had to borrow the bus fare off a neighbour to go to my assessment. You can’t get a job round here at the age of 62. It’s degrading and exhausting. I’ve no idea how I’ll pay the next electricity bill or council tax. The woman who interviewed me had a look in her eyes that said “Scounger”. I expected my pension in May 2014. I won’t now get it until 2020, but they didn’t write to me until 2011. None of us have a clue how we’ll cope.”
“Where has all the money gone? None of my Mother, maternal grandmother and great grandmother were fortunate enough to reach the age of 60, resulting in contributions made by them never being used. When we started our working lives there was no equal pay, no pre school nurseries, no tax credits, no help with childcare.
“I was given just three years notice in 2012 of the changes to my pension age. This was a mere three months after I was finally able to set up a company pension, but unfortunately also three months before I was made redundant from a post I had held for 13 years.
“Seeking employment at the age of 61 is nigh on impossible. I personally will have been denied £46,800 in pension payments by the time I reach 66.”
“I feel that I am living in the 1840’s. Neither I nor any of my children saw any of these notices about pension age changes. I am in a most humiliating position, feeling that I have to ask my husband for every penny I need and justify every purchase to him. He has no pension either, and so he’s still working at 64. Women have been held over a barrel for my lifetime and beyond for whatever choice they make and the choices available to them are generally less rather than more. Stephen Crabb accuses us of ‘breezing through life’ but believe me, I have done no ‘breezing’….by 1999 I was working 7 days a week to make ends meet. My children’s father had moved to Europe to avoid supporting them, so there’s no money coming from that direction.”
Replacing humanity with humiliation: it’s not much of a trade is it?
But there is, very sadly, a generation coming through now that sees this treatment of the Citizen by the State as perfectly normal. Not only is it abnormal – without our taxes, pinstripes and legislators wouldn’t have a job – it is grotesque in its hypocrisy. For each of these case histories shows a different element of pathetic planning and general incomptence by Whiteminister to add to a serial history of fiscal incontinence:
* Over and over again, the ‘information’ campaign claimed by government is shown to be at best a shambles and at worst a lie
* Anna’s problems are exacerbated by low youth wages demanded by neoliberal economic theory
* Privatising the assessment system (and incentivising cruelty) made Sandra’s loss of dignity far greater than should ever have been necessary.
* Eileen’s logic is impossible to counter: had Government from the outset invested State Pension monies in a real fund – as opposed to the current account Ponzi scheme – all families could have benefited in the end from untimely death…and none of this ‘no alternative’ scam would’ve been necessary. It took Parliament a staggering 49 years to grasp this; their quick fix, however, has been to delay the pensions.
* The abysmal failure of the CSA to force feckless men to support their children made Karina’s situation appreciably worse. It was also, of course, turned into a taxpayer money pit up there with Connecting for Health – another Blairite “idea”.
Are you a British female aged 50? Are you a British male aged 45? Don’t expect much of a pension – even though you paid in: if the Government is re-elected after 2020, the ‘triple lock’ on pension values will go, and the pension age will rise. The aim will be to wipe out its value almost entirely by 2030.
This is not an ‘old people’ issue: it’s about defending your right to a retirement.
Are you currently aged 30-40? Do you know what your parents’ pension situation is? Are you prepared to have to support them 100% yourself within the next ten years?
This is not an ‘old people’ issue: it’s about defending the people who brought you into the world, and having enough money to support your own family.
Are you an employer, an economist, a retailer or a small struggling business?
This is not an ‘old people’ issue: it’s about your business and the near certainty of a future economy where nobody can afford to consume.
Are you, regardless of politics, age, religion, ethnicity or circumstances, a decent person?
This is not an ‘old people’ issue: it’s an insult to the Civil Rights of every citizen.
Don’t just sit there: stand up and be counted.