Fairness over ex-pats’ pensions

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From: B J Cussons, Ilkley.

WHILE one can sympathise with parts of Mr Chipps’s letter re lack of pension rises for British people living abroad (The Yorkshire Post, December 1), there are two parts to this issue which in an ideal world could or should be handled differently.

Many ex-patriots left 20 or more years ago. At that time, National Insurance contributions may well have been under £5 per week. They would already have had years of health care on issues ranging from pregnancy to major operations. They have already been well rewarded with a British pension since and perhaps have even held part-time jobs where they now live.

During subsequent years not one penny of their British income has been regularly spent in Britain – only when they have paid visits “home” specifically to use the NHS and occasional holidays. Others who have lived longer in Britain may well have paid some National Insurance at much higher rates and have come nearer to deserving cost of living rises in pensions.

On the other hand those who want to join family late in life could be considered differently in regard to pension rises after they have left these shores. As one is able to do less and less, nearby help from relatives is invaluable. They could also have extra costs due to health deterioration. Would it create too much bureaucracy to separate these situations?

The other thing which seems unfair is the discrimination between countries whose immigrants receive the cost of living rises and those who don’t.

Presumably there will be some complicated inter-government arrangements that causes that?

From: Robert Reynolds, West Bank, Batley, West Yorkshire.

YET more evidence we are governed by idiots. Our Chancellor, George Osborne, has said austerity must continue. His intention is to cut the welfare budget. The biggest sector is pensions, but he won’t cut there. It is to be the unemployed, again.

Unemployment benefit is a fraction of Government spending. He could have looked at Government income and the billions being siphoned out of our economy by big business. Or he could have looked at the huge Government subsidies that business gets from our Treasury.

An independent report highlighted the fact that businesses received over £14bn of state handouts in 2011. That’s three times the cost of Job Seekers’ Allowance. Add to that total corporate benefits to include our greedy banks, and it comes to a whopping £85bn. It’s why a £2bn fine for fraud is like a flea bite on a rhino, to a bank.

Yet that’s not why I think the Tories are idiots. It’s because they created an economy 70 per cent of which relies on people spending money. Then they knowingly encouraged people to get into debt. If you create an economy which needs more people to spend money to create growth, why cut benefits?

From: David Cook, Cottingham, East Yorkshire.

ACCORDING to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the average student debt is forecast to be £44,000. What a reward for the years of study and hard work to obtain a degree. As graduates tend to marry fellow graduates, one can just imagine the nonsensical amount they will end up owing between them. True, the remaining debt is cancelled after 30 years but how can they ever hope to buy a house, raise a family or have a holiday? What teacher would not have severe misgivings before recommending such a course to his star pupils?

The Government needs to think again and agree to implement the firm promise made by Nick Clegg that tuition fees would be abolished.

From: Louis Kasatkin, Pinderfields Road, Wakefield.

SUCH have been the effects of the decades-long duration and intensity of intellectual dishonesty and prohibition surrounding the pressing issue of immigration that is has rendered impossible any political action required to now belatedly deal with those issues.

Why, for instance, does the organised trades union and Labour movement persist in advocating and supporting intensified labour market competition which always acts to drive down real wages? Every single trades union has as a core principle the commitment that it alone exists to defend, maintain and improve the wages and conditions of employment of its members.

Unless there’s some Alice-in-Wonderland clause that they’re not sharing with the rest of us, how on earth in the real economic world does support and encouragement of unrestricted cross-border EU migration, for example, help to maintain and defend, let alone improve, wages and conditions?

A lesson in ignorance

From: Terry Duncan, Greame Road, Bridlington.

IS it not about time that “general knowledge” was added to the school curriculum?

I only ask, because, as an old geezer, I watch many quiz programmes where the ignorance of several teachers who have appeared is beyond belief. Recent examples: what was the Fighting Temeraire? Answer: A racehorse. Which English Queen’s face appeared on the first postage stamp? Answer: Elizabeth 1. Who was the first President of America? Answer: JFK.

In each case the excuses from the teachers were that these subjects were not on the agenda when they went to school. God help the children of the future!