Elderly Among EU’s Worst Off

An article by Jaymi McCann of the Sunday Express reveals Britain’s pensioners are among the poorest  in the EU, with a greater risk of poverty than those in Poland or Latvia.

Despite the UK being the second richest country in Europe, a new report says 15 states do better when it comes to pensioner poverty.

A failing state pension system and low employment in later life has left 1.7 million below the poverty line.

The International Longevity Centre report due out next week shows 16.1 percent of British pensioners live in relative poverty compared with 15.4 percent in Romania and 13.9 percent in Latvia.

The elderly also fare better in Germany, Austria, Spain, Denmark, Poland, Ireland, France, Norway, Slovakia, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Hungary and the Netherlands.

About 1.5 million over-50’s have lost their jobs since 2006 due to redundancy, ill health or forced early retirement, according to the Prince of Wale’s Initiative for Mature Enterprises.

The ILC said “The state pension is being squeezed and it is difficult for people to keep saving when earnings are not rising but costs are increasing.” Its report says the state pension is now just 31.9 percent of average pay in Britain. Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said “Many pensioners live on very low, fixed incomes and have been walking a tightrope in recent years as food and utility bills have escalated.

“The government must do more to get vital money benefits to those who need extra support.”

Pensions expert Ros Altmann said “The UK has one of the lowest state pension in the developed world . We rely heavily on private pensions but those who don’t have the chance to save are living in poverty.”

The Department of Work and Pensions says it is switching to a more effective single-tier system next year, while the “Triple Lock” introduced by the coalition will ensure the state pension increases each year by inflation, wages or 2.5 percent, whichever is greater.


The State Pension under a Labour

The Sun newspaper has found that workers could be forced to toll for even longer to get a state pension under a labour government.

Shadow Chancellor Ed balls yesterday (09/06/13) said that spending on pensioners would be included in his cap on welfare payments if the party wins power.

The Government has excluded it from the plan to cap the benefits bill because of it’s “triple lock”, which guarantees pension rise with earnings, inflation, or 2.5% whichever is highest.

Mr Balls told the BBC that cash paid to pensioners is too much to ignore.

“Many people will not realise that the clear, large bulk of welfare spending is, in fact, going to people over 60,” he said.

Mr Balls failed to rule out blocking rises in pensions under the triple lock, saying “that is not our intention”. opponents seized on his remarks, which came days after the Shadow Chancellor said Labour would scrap winter fuel allowance for comfortably off pensioners. The Tory Treasury Twitter feed claimed: “Ed Balls has revealed what labour really mean when they talk about controlling the welfare bill – cutting the state pension”.

That was rejected by a Labour spokesman who said “Labour supports the triple lock on the state pension. But, as Ed Balls said, it would be perverse to exclude overall spending on pensioners and the impact of an ageing society from any sensible and long-term fiscal plan to monitor and control structural social security spending.”

However, the party did not rule out fresh rises in the state pension age – which has already been hiked by Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

It will rise to 66 in 2020 and 67 from 2026 under the Tory Cabinet minister’s plans, which hit the poorest hardest because they die younger than the better-off.

Mr Balls played down the prospect of scrapping pensioners’ free bus passes and TV licences.

But he insisted that payments to the elderly cannot be excluded from the cap.

Mr Balls said: “For the cap to work vigorously we have got to be looking ahead and I have got to be saying to these spending ministers, “Look three years ahead. You are going off track – do what needs to be done now.”

We agree with the Sun that Ed Balls and Ed Miliband should stand up for hard working families, not require them to work harder for longer causing obvious potential health problems for them.
Occupations such as lawyers and stock brokers mightn’t worry about a few extra years but it could kill manual workers.
We seem to be drifting slowly in the coming years where it’s a case of “lets save money possibly but ruin and lose lives along the way”.

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