Author Topic: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing  (Read 7579 times)

Monic1511

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #15 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

KizzyKazaer

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #16 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<


TemporallyLoopy

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #17 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

Life is what happens to you when you're making other plans.

(Betty Talmadge, b. 1924)

Sofie

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #18 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?

Prabhakari

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #19 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.
Bless 'em all, bless 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall.

seegee

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #20 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<

KizzyKazaer

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #21 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...

Sofie

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #22 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?

seegee

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #23 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.  ;-)

Sofie

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #24 on: 11 Jul 2012 11:16AM »
I was thinking more of the claiming DLA bit.

seegee

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #25 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.

oldtone27

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #26 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.


KizzyKazaer

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #27 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< 

Pentesalie

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #28 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

Monic1511

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Re: Tories target pensioner benefits for means-testing
« Reply #29 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