Out of touch

SIR - Well, how could I have got it so wrong? The Institute for Fiscal Studies describes the 2012 Budget ‘Granny tax’ a relatively modest tax increase on an age group previously protected from tax and benefit changes for the past ten or more years.

So, when I have complained about the British state pension being almost the lowest in Europe; having to work much longer than any one else (babies being born now will have to work until they are 80); savings interest plummet to almost nothing; most pensioners totally dependent on means-tested benefits; hospitals and nursing homes lacking hygiene and compassion; selling homes to pay for our long term care; and all the many other genuine grievances that we have, I have actually been unfair to Governments who have treated us so generously.

However, when I remember the National Insurance Fund (NIF) where all our employment stamp money goes, less a contribution to the National Health Service, to pay decent pensions, nursing care and other benefits, then I start wondering again.

At its peak in 2008/09, the NIF had a surplus of more than �51billion; today there is more than �37billion.

The recommended reserve is �13billion in case of unexpected benefit demands, so there is �24billion that could, and should, be used to increase state pensions and pay for our nursing care.

Instead, this Government is ‘borrowing’ our money to reduce general taxation, paying 0.05 per cent interest, but we don’t know how much has been ‘borrowed’, or when it will be repaid.

The surplus was originally invested in long-term Government bonds paying reasonable interest rates, now in a simple overnight account that can be raided at the Government’s slightest whim.

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Very good for the Government - but not for the pensioner.

No, on reflection, politicians are out of touch with reality and cannot see the wood for the trees, it has always been thus, but taking money from pensioners to give to already very wealthy people make this Government a very exceptional group. Generous to pensioners? No, I don’t think so.

Tom Williams

A Devon Pensioner

via email