Ouch Too

Forum => Talk => Topic started by: Pentesalie on 10 Jul 2012 04:25PM

Title: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Pentesalie on 10 Jul 2012 04:25PM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/article7924940.ece
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Ricardomeister on 10 Jul 2012 04:35PM
Means testing is not the answer imo. Taking the winter fuel allowance off higher rate taxpayers would save about £100 million, but then you would have to factor in the significant costs of administering the means testing for over 12.5 million pensioners, which would drastically reduce any savings.

The other thing to bear in mind with any means tested benefit is that many people who are entitled do not claim it. That may save the government some more money, but would defeat the object of getting the benefit to those who are most in need. Pension credit, for example, is means tested and official figures show that between 32% and 38% of those who are entitled do not claim it.

If a simple and fair way of getting the money off higher rate taxpayers can be achieved through the tax system then fair enough, but it is going to make a tiny impact on the deficit (just like with the benefit cap, which was given huge publicity but estimated savings are less than £300 million). It is a shame that such minimal areas of potential savings receive so much publicity whereas, for example, the many billions wasted on unnecessary nuclear weapons and lost to tax evasion, which could make a large impact on the deficit, are largely ignored.

As for means testing tv licences, the IFS figures for 09/10 show just over 4 million concessionary licences for "elderly people", costing £549 million. I cannot see any real savings being made from means testing that "benefit".
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: oldtone27 on 10 Jul 2012 04:52PM
A question I have not seem answered is what is the definition of a 'better off' pensioner.

One might consider Lord Sugar and Paul McCartney to be 'better off' but I suspect the government would probably set a cut of as those who did not qualify for pension credit. I would not regard those just above the limit as 'better off'

It maybe that pensioners paying higher rate tax could be considered and that would be a fairer limit. Wouldn't catch that many I suspect.

I agree means testing is not likely to be a cost effective way of administering the change so perhaps paying universally as at present but clawing back through income tax, a la child benefit might be one way.

I have heard it argued that these better off pensioners have almost certainly paid handsomely through taxes during their working life so the benefits are only what they are due.

Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Pentesalie on 10 Jul 2012 05:05PM
Agree with you wholeheartedly, Ricardo >thumbsup<
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Sofie on 10 Jul 2012 05:30PM
I wonder how many pensioners would qualify for a bus pass on the basis of disability if it was withdrawn on basis of age?

Also, isn't giving someone a bus pass encouraging them to stop driving as much and encouraging them to go out? Someone going out generally means they buy things, which helps the economy.
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: KizzyKazaer on 10 Jul 2012 06:30PM
Perhaps the Government would like to consider something really radical...

...how about paying a more adequate basic state pension in the first place?
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Sofie on 10 Jul 2012 06:36PM
Aren't they considering a £140 per week pension for all?
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: KizzyKazaer on 10 Jul 2012 06:38PM
I don't know, Sofie - can you remember where you saw that information?
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Ricardomeister on 10 Jul 2012 06:42PM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/mar/21/budget-2012-flat-rate-pension-scheme
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Sofie on 10 Jul 2012 06:42PM
Budget 2012 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/mar/21/budget-2012-flat-rate-pension-scheme
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: KizzyKazaer on 10 Jul 2012 06:49PM
Thanks, both  >tah<

It doesn't seem to have met with approval from the National Pensioners Convention, though..

Britain's biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) criticised the move.

Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: "The proposal to merge the basic and second state pensions into a single £140 a week payment is a classic case of smoke and mirrors – given that someone could retire today and get a combined basic and second state pension of £150 a week.

"In reality there will be no extra money to raise Britain's scandalously low state pension – just a different way of packaging the payment. Not only that but it will also create a two-tier pension system with existing pensioners still having to struggle with a complicated means-tested system that leaves one in four older people in poverty."

I'd be interested in the views of any of our pensioner Ouchers!
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Frances on 10 Jul 2012 07:22PM
As someone who is on Pension Credit and nearly 70.I know how much it helps.
 I also know the older I get the more difficult I find it to make my brain get around all the rules and regulations.
 What they need is someone who actually comes and helps people like me claim.
As I am sure the majority of us don't have any idea what help is available or how to get it.
It seems what they are planning is really going to make life even more complicated for us .
I was self employed most of my life and cared for my eldest son before he died .
Then I nursed my mother for 7 years.
By then my second son was ill and I have cared for him , he is now 31 and will need care for the rest of his life.
All this time working as well.
 I get a small amount added to my Pension credit for this.
But if they cap it at £140. I will lose about £60 a week.
 Which just about covers our fuel bills  as His washing means the washer Drier is on 24/7.
That and the fact we will most likely lose DLA is very scary  !!! >yikes<
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: devine63 on 10 Jul 2012 07:30PM
Hi Frances

my understanding is that the £140 per week is a guaranteed minimum, they are not planning to cap older people's benefits as far as I know, so you should continue to get what you get now.... except that as you said, there is the transition to PIP to cope with for your son (I think older people get to keep their DLA).
regards, Deb
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Sofie on 10 Jul 2012 07:34PM
That's my understanding, Deb. So those who have an underlying entitlement to carers allowance, receive DLA or AA, get the top ups.
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Frances on 10 Jul 2012 07:50PM
Thanks Ladies. Just got PIP for Ry to worry about then . >whistle<
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Monic1511 on 10 Jul 2012 08:44PM
My problem with taking away things like the bus pass etc from "wealthy" pensioners just makes those people angry. Why should anyone pay 40 years of tax and when they retire are told "okay you have paid all your working life - your state pension is £167 (plucked out of air) & no your not due anything else we want you to keep paying.  How does this encourage anyone to work & pay tax.   Its fine saying you get the roads, schools, NHS but so does the pensioner who never worked a day.


As for the basic £140 pension, this is smoke & mirrors - say your pension is currently £120 so you get £42.70 guaranteed pension credit & £85.00 housing benefit and £20.00 council tax.   Your now getting £140 State pension but due to universal credit you'll get £97.70 and you pay your rent and council tax.   You are no better off than before but your meant to feel better off.   Getting your rent & council tax as cash in hand raises the other problems of remembering to pay them.

In Scotland Water & Sewerage bills are collected by the council tax departments & its a common problem of "I don't pay my council tax bill cos I get council tax benefit so why do I have a bill for £350?"   Thats the water bill! >doh<   This is one of the biggest contributors to the rise in bankruptices in Scotland - but thats another topic. >whistle<
Monic
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: KizzyKazaer on 10 Jul 2012 10:10PM
Do they not have water meters your side of the border, Monic?

My problem with taking away things like the bus pass etc from "wealthy" pensioners just makes those people angry. Why should anyone pay 40 years of tax and when they retire are told "okay you have paid all your working life - your state pension is £167 (plucked out of air) & no your not due anything else we want you to keep paying.  How does this encourage anyone to work & pay tax.   Its fine saying you get the roads, schools, NHS but so does the pensioner who never worked a day. 

I can understand that potential for resentment, but at the same time a pensioner who didn't pay income tax or NI into the system (or not enough of either) could well be a disabled person who was incapable of work - I think this was brought up on another recent thread.  It's a difficult one, isn't it  >erm<

Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: TemporallyLoopy on 10 Jul 2012 11:05PM
As Oldtone says, what constitutes a "well off pensioner"?  Are they going to consider anyone retired who still has an income over the bare minimum, or anyone not claiming pension credits, as not being deserving of the current extras!

Some so-called universal benefits will not be taken up anyway as they are not wanted / not available / or are totally unsuitable for the person concerned. 

I put down these few thoughts from my parents' point of view - I know that they are luckier than many but are hardly "well off":

1)    Because of the lack of buses where we live, unless you are pretty fit and able, the free pass is of no use;
2)    The free dental check ups .... there was no NHS dentist when we moved down here so we had to register with a private one;
3)    Winter fuel allowance - they do receive it because they refuse to leave it to the government's tender mercy but each year choose a local charity.  Last year they gave it to our cottage hospital who have a cancer outreach programme and were raising money for another "chemo chair";
4)    Free Prescriptions - my mother would get them anyway because she is insulin-dependent diabetic etc.


I would add that those who are currently retired (my father is in this mid-70s) often paid very high levels of taxation during their working lives, during the 1970s income tax rates ranged from 35% to around 83% ... yes 83%.  None of this namby-pamby 50p and I am pretty sure on unearned income it was over 90p in the £1.  Those who took up apprenticeships, became articled clerks or took on other training often had to pay for it themselves and their equipment too (a bit like student loans - just not as expensive!).

So no, even if the benefits are not always taken up, and even if they are not always necessary financially, I do not believe that they should be made means tested.  It will be a slap in the face to those considered "wealthy" who aren't;  if they have to be applied for, many who really need them may not do so because they are ashamed; and, at its simplest, will generally annoy everyone and will add yet another layer of expensive administration to the financial machinery of the Inland Revenue. >erm< 

Just how many of these benefits are someone very wealthy to take up?  >doh<  Are they going to use a bus pass anyway - no.  Neither are they going to go to an NHS dentist or optician, and a lot of their hospital time will be spent in the private sector anyway.
(Prescription costs are something else and I do fear that, sooner or later, many of us with "medical exemptions" will find ourselves liable to pay once more and, not only that, we will then be faced with huge increases in the annual pre-payment certificates if they even remain in existence.)

I worry that once you start means testing what are currently universal benefits for one group of people it may have a knock-on effect and could well lead to questions about AA, DLA (PIP) and so on.


T.Loopy

Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Sofie on 10 Jul 2012 11:15PM
1)    Because of the lack of buses where we live, unless you are pretty fit and able, the free pass is of no use;

A relative of my dad said this. They have a bus pass; but there are very few buses.

Quote
3)    Winter fuel allowance - they do receive it because they refuse to leave it to the government's tender mercy but each year choose a local charity.  Last year they gave it to our cottage hospital who have a cancer outreach programme and were raising money for another "chemo chair";

I think there was a campaign last year where they asked that people who don't need the allowance, to donate it to people who do need it. Or something like that.

Means testing will outweigh the savings that the government hope to have. Like others have said, where do you draw the line?
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Prabhakari on 11 Jul 2012 03:03AM
I do not know if this is true or not, but a few short years ago, there was mention of the pension paid in France. I recall a sum of £200.00 a week. It looked at pensioners who are able to have regular holidays, because they get enough to live on, with money for luxuries such as holidays.
I heard it on Radio 4.

My impression of this country is one of absolute mean-ness. A country where the rich give as little as possible to the poor.
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: seegee on 11 Jul 2012 10:03AM
My impression of this country is one of absolute mean-ness. A country where the rich give as little as possible to the poor.

Many rich people seem unable to grasp the idea that someone can work very hard all their life and remain poor - that it isn't actually possible for everybody to become lawyers, bankers or "self-made" millionaires.
If the best of your ability gets you a low-paid job you will never be rich.  If you are disabled or have a long-term illness that interferes with your ability to earn lots of money, you may well be dependent on govt. 
There are a lot of people who will never get a mortgage or have the money to buy a home; not because they don't work hard, not because they squander money on unnecessary things, simply because their income will always be too low.
Many(though not all) people with lots of money like to think it is all "earned" due to their hard work & has nothing to do with the (often poorly-paid) teachers at their schools or with the sheer luck of being born with the intellectual & social ability to "get on" in society. 

I wonder how well very wealthy people would do if the cleaners, kitchen assistants, shop workers, delivery-drivers and other low-paid workers were able to stop work for a month... and how many people would actually notice if people with an annual income of £250,000 stopped work for a month.  >devil<
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: KizzyKazaer on 11 Jul 2012 10:14AM
 >biggrin<


I worry that once you start means testing what are currently universal benefits for one group of people it may have a knock-on effect and could well lead to questions about AA, DLA (PIP) and so on.

A point very well made, T.Loopy - haven't we already started down that road with Child Benefit, which is now means-tested from January 2013 (and this was once the 'sacred cow' of the Welfare State).  Nothing is really safe, it would seem...
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Sofie on 11 Jul 2012 10:51AM
Some people have suggested (on other sites; not here) that DLA is means tested. That would mean for some, no blue badge. But someone with an income of £100k per year who is a full time wheelchair user, needs a disabled bay just as much as someone on benefits who is a full time wheelchair user.

And where do you draw the line? For many of us, our costs are much higher than the amount of DLA we receive. I have come across posts where people claim DLA, IS and the premiums on top. They then moan it's too much money and that they don't need it. >doh< Why claim it in the first place then?
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: seegee on 11 Jul 2012 11:01AM
It's hard not to claim it, Sofie; if you need to apply for IS you have to fill in the whole form, which includes declaring whether you receive DLA... so it's not possible to refuse any of the premiums. 
Someone applying for IS has little or no income from any other source, so they can't very well not claim at all.

If they then feel they have too much money, they can donate the excess to any cause that pleases them, whether that's a local dogs' home, a theatre, a food bank or anything else.  ;-)
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Sofie on 11 Jul 2012 11:16AM
I was thinking more of the claiming DLA bit.
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: seegee on 11 Jul 2012 11:39AM
Don't know; I suppose some people have a life-long disability & DLA was claimed on their behalf when they were children or very young adults (student finance advisors, for instance). 
It's probably not that easy to un-claim - DWP would probably send a change of circumstances/ new claim form, which leaves the option of lying about your condition (telling them you've grown a couple of new legs for instance?) or refusing to fill the form at all, which would leave your indefinite award unchanged. 

As it's not means-tested, "I don't need it" isn't a good enough reason for DWP to stop it. 
The option of giving it away is still available for anyone who doesn't want it.
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: oldtone27 on 11 Jul 2012 01:28PM
Kizzy asked for a pensioner's perspective so here is mine.

I suppose that I might come into the 'better off pensioner' category. If I lost these various benefits it would not be a catastrophe but it would be the equivalent of a tax rise. I don't object to my taxes going for benefits to people who are genuinely disabled or out of work (which I accept is true of most), health service or education etc, but I expect these things to administered efficiently which I see little evidence of.

I also feel that there are other areas of expenditure that should be addressed before cutting such benefits. for instance why are we engaged in expensive overseas military adventures. We should be defending against terrorists in the UK not in some exercise in futility on their home territory.

Why are we wastingt vast amounts on overseas aid in subsidising corrupt governments or burgeoning economies? I feel we do more good by spending less more intelligently.

Enough ranting for now or I'll not stop.

Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: KizzyKazaer on 11 Jul 2012 02:10PM
I also feel that there are other areas of expenditure that should be addressed before cutting such benefits. for instance why are we engaged in expensive overseas military adventures.

I can only surmise that the Government wants to 'keep in' with the US as regards the latter - I've never spoken to anybody who actually supports these damn wars! 

Agreed about the overseas aid as well, I'm not convinced it goes to those who are in the most need.  Anyway, shouldn't we be making sure that all our own citizens are living reasonably comfortably before playing Lady Bountiful to the rest of the world?  Oh dear, I feel my own rant coming on  >whistle< 
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Pentesalie on 11 Jul 2012 03:38PM
Here's the latest on the Tories ideas about care for the elderly and disabled, and charging for it. The charging 'cap' of 100K could be on it's way.

http://www.independent.co.uk/money/pensions/article7932721.ece
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Monic1511 on 11 Jul 2012 05:43PM
Hi Kizzy
Do they not have water meters your side of the border, Monic?   Not many have water meters - what happens is your water bill is worked out depending on your council tax band so the higher the band the higher the water charge Band A is £262.38 per year & band H is £787.14  so if your on income based benefits your monthly bill is either £26 or £78  weekly thats about £6.50 or £19.50 so if you only get £71.00 even with a 25% discount your bill will be £15 a week  >yikes<

Problem with means testing all benefits is that the thresholds are very low
£71.00 single person, £111.45 couple or £142.70 single pensioner or £217.90 couple over pension age.   I know that there are premiums on top of that but the horror displayed by people in their 50's just made redundant & being told they need £111.45.week is very real and they are quickly terrified about how they will cope.
Means testing has been shown to deter claims so thats the governments ulterior motive (IMO) >whistle<

Just today I failed to convince an elderly couple to claim the benefits they are due, no they will continue not to heat the house & just manage after all the government is cutting back. >angry<  the press reports are working then! >steam<
Monic
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: KizzyKazaer on 11 Jul 2012 05:54PM
That's how it used to work here with 'water rates', Monic - they were aligned to the general property rating system that was in force for years before replaced first with the failed 'poll tax' (Community Charge) and then of course Council Tax.  When property rates ceased, so did the water element.  That was - blimey, back in the late 80s/early 90s?  I think it's a much fairer system to pay for the water you actually use - you do so with electricity and gas, why should water be any different?  I feel for your people getting those high bills...

Means testing has been shown to deter claims so thats the governments ulterior motive (IMO) >whistle<


Spot-on - bunch of < insert rude word(s) of your choice >

Of course, the newspapers will never be flooded with stories of how much benefit goes unclaimed....

Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Sofie on 11 Jul 2012 05:55PM

Problem with means testing all benefits is that the thresholds are very low
£71.00 single person, £111.45 couple or £142.70 single pensioner or £217.90 couple over pension age.   I know that there are premiums on top of that but the horror displayed by people in their 50's just made redundant & being told they need £111.45.week is very real and they are quickly terrified about how they will cope.

Agreed. My dad had his appendix out earlier this year and had to have 3 weeks post-surgery off work and claimed sick pay. (which I think is around £80 a week) To go from £240-odd per week to £80 is a huge drop. We just managed.
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Monic1511 on 11 Jul 2012 08:01PM
Kizzy In Scotland the water company is still nationalised so when Maggie sold the water board to all the new companies the Scottish office said it wasn't possible in Scotland so we still have nationalised water, It means when you are house hunting you check the council tax band before putting down a deposit.   new builds are generally a E,F,G,H band,  council houses tend to be A or B, "well off" areas where houses have 3 or more bedrooms tend to be C or D.  Its just another thing you have to consider when looking for a house in Scotland.

Sophie - the problem with sick pay £85.85 is that your also expected to claim housing & council tax benefits but they forget the reason your getting sick pay is that your not well so how are you meant to deal with all the extra forms and palaver that goes with claiming these  >steam<

Hope your dad is feeling better
Monic
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Sofie on 11 Jul 2012 08:04PM
He's better thanks, Monic.
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Prabhakari on 11 Jul 2012 10:11PM
I feel certain that we will see many stories of hardship, after P.I.P. is fully introduced.
In my case, being able to read my hands, it is clear that I am going to get less money to live on.
It is why I am investing in the things I know I need, while I still have the money to pay for them.

I am worried that I will start to see posts in here, before long, from disabled people who are really struggling to pay the cost of being alive in this country.

With metta, Prabhakari.  >rainbow2<
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Sofie on 11 Jul 2012 10:27PM
Agreed, Prab. It's difficult enough for me with the lower rates now.
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: sherbs on 12 Jul 2012 08:01PM
I think here in the south of England we are all having Water Meters.  It makes sense, you pay for what you use.  I already have a water meter.
Title: Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
Post by: Hurtyback on 13 Jul 2012 12:39PM
We switched to a meter a few months ago and were very happy with our first bill  :-) . In our area, meters are being installed routinely when a property is sold.