Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Jenny Willott lives on State Pension for a week

Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Willott has been living on the basic State Pension of £95.25 this week, a huge change from her normal salary of her current gross weekly income as an MP of £1245.50.

She's doing it to highlight how difficult it is to manage to live on such a low income. She's recounting her experiences here on Twitter. It's well worth having a look at some of the basic choices she's having to make. She talked about buying a cheap tin of soup for lunch but then realising there was no tin opener in the office and having to nip out and get one. Most poignantly, she realises how hard it is to buy something as simple as a Remembrance poppy:

"My Remembrance poppy is looking tatty and I need a new one. I appreciate now it's a much bigger sacrifice to buy one as a pensioner."

I guess the other thing to think about is that Jenny is getting the full State Pension whereas many women don't qualify for even that paltry amount because they either worked part time, took time out to have children or look after elderly relatives. Some may have been badly advised decades ago and made decisions that it is now impossible to rectify because nobody will take responsiblity for the mistake.

This week Liberal Democrat Pensions Spokesman Steve Webb wrote in Liberal Democrat News about his fight to obtain justice for women who have been let down by the Pensions system.

He told how he had brought individual cases to the Government's attention and identified that 150,000 wome had missed out on help of around £2000 each because they had not received the Home Responsibilities Protection to which they were entitled from 1978 onwards.

He also identified that some women had not been notified of a special scheme to help those born between 1938 and 1944 boost their pensions in certain circumstances. The government agreed to contact the women concerned and they are likely to receive, between them, millions in a Pensions boost that they were rightfully entitled to.

It's appalling that women have borne the brunt of caring duties, saving the Government a fortune in many cases and then been kicked in the teeth when it comes to receiving even the most basic of State help in their old age. And before anyone reminds me about the Pension Credit, it's not that great and many people who are entitled to it don't claim often because they don't know about it. It's good that we have Steve to fight so tenaciously on their behalf.


subrosa said...

I'm perhaps more fortunate than most women because I worked all my life (with the exception of a couple of 1 year breaks) and I paid the 'full stamp'.

My sympathy goes to women who paid what was commonly known in those days as the 'married woman's stamp' because it's these women who have lost out.

My state pension is a pittance really and I would be completely unable to have any quality of life if it was all the income I had. Then that horrendous process of begging from the taxpayer for money would have to kick in. What a humiliating ordeal that is.

A wee question - do you think Jenny Willott only buys a poppy when her old one looks tatty? Most people buy a new one each year. I get her point though. The elderly usually give more than they can afford in support of Remembrance Day. It was very evident to me when I used to shake a can for the RBL.

Roland Hulme said...

Ah, but where does all this money come from? This is the problem. More and more people are retiring and fewer and fewer people are left to pay for them. Social insurance in the USA and UK are practically bankrupt. The only way to give retirees the money they deserve is to raise taxes (and it's a bottomless pit.)

I wrote about the situation in America (which is similar to the UK) here.

And Caron, you ain't seen nothing yet. I read a terrifying article in Time magazine called 'Is it time to retire the 401k' and it revealed that an entire generation is about to get gypped out of their retirement because they got 'sold' on investing in a 401k and it's just a bad, bad, unsafe investment.

A retirement savings account that would be worth $3,000 a month will only pay out $1,200 for a similarly funded 401k. It's a HUGE swindle and what's worse, given governments in the UK and USA an excuse to step back from funding social insurance for retirees because they're under the illusion that 401ks will support them.

It's smoke and mirrors and a small number of people have got very rich screwing the majority of us out of our retirement.

Okay, conspiracy theory rant over.


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