Pensioners should prepare for unfair treatment

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From: David T Craggs, Tunstall, East Yorkshire.

I CAN’T help but feel that some sort of “softening up” process is taking place as far as we pensioners are concerned, in preparation for some sort of downgrading of our benefits.

First, we had the likes of Sir Michael Parkinson and Sir Terry Wogan saying that rich pensioners should forgo their winter fuel allowances. Then this was followed by Nick Clegg, the coalition’s deputy leader, stating that rich pensioners should forgo their free bus passes, television licences and eye tests.

Of course, none of these people has defined a “rich” pensioner. The names of Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Mick Jagger have been quoted as being rich pensioners, which they undoubtedly are. But where does one draw the line?

I suspect that if the Government wanted to make changes they would fall back on the pension credit limit, that most unfair of all benefits, where a pensioner with an income a pound below the limit (£137 for a single person, £210 for a couple) is deemed to be poor, whereas one with an income a pound above the limit is deemed to be rich.

It is an “all or nothing” benefit, set at a level where those pensioners who made extra provision for themselves when they were younger, setting up home and raising a family, and could ill afford to make that extra provision, would never be able to claim the benefit. Pension credit qualification also holds the key that opens the door to other benefits.

From the Government’s point of view, using pension credit qualification would be the easy option. Not only would it probably save the most money, all the details are at hand to determine who would qualify and who would not. Those who were unable or unwilling to claim would simply have their free benefits stopped.