Curbing OAP benefits could backfire

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From: Brian Waddington, Dukes Wharf, Terry Avenue, York.

IN her article (Yorkshire Post, February 10,) Anne McIntosh states that pensioners are not allowed to contribute to their bus fares.

Since when has it been compulsory for all pensioners to apply for a pass? If I board a bus without one, is the driver going to take one look at me and say “You are a pensioner, I am not accepting any fare from you”?

I hardly think so.

I can well understand if a passenger tried to pay half the price of the journey this would cause confusion, but is this really likely?

This does raise the more serious issue of what constitutes a wealthy pensioner.

There is talk from time to time of ceasing to pay universal benefits to such persons, but nowhere have I seen a definition.

Apart from the argument that the wealthier members of the population have paid more in taxes during their working life, and are continuing to pay tax on their private pensions and any meagre investment income that is available in the present economic climate, there is also the point that the Government is trying to encourage more people to save for their old age by universal pension schemes.

What incentive is there to do this if the result is a loss of benefits paid to those who have not bothered to save but have lived by the maxim that the State will take care of us when we grow old?

Lib Dems’ deficit myth

From: John Cole, Oakroyd Terrace, Baildon, Shipley.

I AM a paid-up Liberal Democrat and as such have been advised that in the up-coming European elections my party will be running, as one of its lines, the assertion that “Labour can’t be trusted with the economy”.

The argument is that “Labour’s reckless spending and failure to regulate the banks crippled Britain’s economy and Liberal Democrats in Government have been cleaning up their mess”.

I am also a former economics teacher who manages in his retirement to read more deeply than previously. From my research it is clear that the Labour government was pretty responsible with the nation’s finances. In 2007, both the deficit (2.4 per cent of GDP) and the national debt (36.5 per cent) were lower than in 1997 (3.4 per cent of GDP, national debt of 42.5 per cent). The deficit inherited by the coalition was the result of the financial crash – it was made on Wall Street and not in Downing Street. The evidence on this is robust.

I have written to my party on three occasions correcting their assertions in this area. What they (and the Tories) are circulating is a manufactured myth.

I am saddened that my party has sought to perpetuate this lie, especially since we came into the 2010 election promising a more honest politics.

Regions need HS2 link fast

From: Andrew Pearson, Park Lane, Roundhay, Leeds.

MICHAEL Heseltine has already outlined a very strong case for far more de-centralising of the UK Government finances away from London and the South East to the regions. I believe this was accepted by the Government but I have seen little or no progress from George Osborne and the Treasury.

Linda Riordan’s article (Yorkshire Post, February 10) was I think a timely reminder, not just for Yorkshire, but all the English regions.

For the North and Midlands a sensible start would be to start HS2 by joining up our cities before connecting to the capital.

Our whole economy is far too London/South East-centric and regional links to the capital are frequent, speedy and comfortable – a complete contrast to the out-of-date regional rail links.

Such a development would also reduce road traffic in the regions – our motorways are hardly coping at the moment.

Action on diversity

From: Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, QED, Vicar Lane, Bradford.

REGARDING the Diversity Deficit report from Trevor Phillips and Prof Richard Webber.

As a charity that has worked and campaigned for equality for ethnic minorities for almost 25 years, Trevor Phillips’ report revealing a deep diversity deficit in Britain’s senior workforce is sadly not a surprise.

We’ve worked with over 800 managers in the private and public sector in the past to address diversity, but in the last six or seven years the enthusiasm to address racial inequalities has dampened.

As the report argues, diversity can only benefit organisations and our economy as a whole to compete in a global market.

Diversity is perhaps a safer concept than race, perhaps because of political fears around public perceptions around immigration.

Diversity – of gender, disability – is equally important, but has been seen to be more important than race. People feel if we tackle diversity, race will naturally come into it.

But there is huge diversity within diversity. Some ethnic minorities are flourishing, others aren’t.

There’s a range of socio-economic reasons why. Immigrants from rural backgrounds, for example, 
need a level of up-skilling to compete.

But that doesn’t explain 
those who have a high level 
of qualifications who find it difficult, particular at senior level. This has to be down to institutionalised racial discrimination.

We have never advocated a quota system or positive discrimination, but as this report shows, we are now in a dire state.

We hope its findings will shame those in power to act.

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