Op-ed: Pensions in the UK have been protected by a triple lock but that looks set to be scrapped.
David Cameron's election promise was a committment to the triple-lock until 2020 at least.
BBC News claims "As a result of triple-lock policy, the state pension has risen by a relatively generous £1,100 since 2010, with an increase of 2.9% in April this year." Break that figure down and it is less than £200 a year; less in some cases. Much less than £3 a week.
But Cameron has gone and the government is now led by unelected PM Theresa May.
Younger people who may say "good" to news that the triple lock could end need to consider a few things not least that the state pension is a pittance in real terms and that for older retired people the pension is as good as it gets for the rest of their lives.
Getting old is a fact of life; the only alternative is dying young.
But when we are young it is hard to envisage yourself as an older person, frail, perhaps with no family, maybe still struggling to pay rent or doing OK financially until a long term husband, wife or partner dies or has to move into a residential care home.
It is all relative and many people will know at least a few older citizens who continue to work into very old age or seem to have an affluent lifestyle.
The reality is most pensioners are not wealthy.
The state pension is not a huge amount of money nor is it a state handout or a benefit.
Down many years people pay into the system, play by the unwritten rules, and toe the line hoping they are paying in for a little security in old age.
There are always some, like my parents who died aged 55, Dad, and 58, Mum, who are never able to claim their state pension.
Dad worked all his life, including military service during the second world war, but his pension entitlement ended with his death obviously, resulting in money going to the Treasury for use as they see fit.
Recent governments in the UK have made a complete hash of pensions; not the very generous pensions of politicians however.
It was decided to equalise retirement age and rather than bringing the age down for men, the age women can retire has been gradually increasing. Men also face a higher retirement age; how high depends on their age now.
Trust politicians to make it complicated and unfair
Check out WASPI women to understand the pension problems of women born in the 1950s. Check out the new flate rate pension to understand that it offers a two-tier pension system with people born before a certain date losing out.
The new flat rate pension is touted as a good thing and a fair system but it is not available to all.
The Pensions Reform Group
Frank Field, 74, is the veteran Labour MP who chairs the House of Commons work and pensions select committee.
Who is Frank Field?
In a report on immigration in 2006 the Guardian said "Devout Christian and fervent admirer of Lady Thatcher, the outspoken Labour MP has fanned further controversy, this time over immigration, but until his vision of a new Britain is achieved, he won't be silenced."
A strange sort of Labour politician.
Tony Blair also had an uncomfortable positive opinion about Maggie Thatcher.
That Guardian report had to this to say about Field back in 2006:
In his youth, he was a member of the Conservative party, but he was thrown out for opposing South Africa's apartheid system. Shortly after becoming the MP for Birkenhead in 1979, he took on Militant and threatened to stand as an independent if they attempted to deselect him. And then there are his views on the welfare state, which place him firmly in a category all of his own, certainly within Labour. Put most simply, he believes it degrades the very people it is meant to serve, that it creates a benefit-dependent, work-shy sub-class. 'It's our fault as politicians to have put temptation in front of people,' he has said. 'If the system pays people more on incapacity benefit [than jobseekers' allowance], it's human nature to claim the higher amount. We have to remove the incentive.' In short, Frank Field wants to sack the nanny from the nanny state.
From 1997 to 1998, Field served as the Minister of Welfare Reform, before leaving the Government, following differences with Prime Minister Tony Blair but in June 2015 Field was elected Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee.
Although this report is about pensions it seems fair to include information aout Mr Field who is chair of a committee recommending an end to the triple lock.
Percentage pay increases are always a mixed bag.
"State pension to rise 2.5% from April to £116 as 'triple lock' boosts pensioners' handout twice as fast as workers' pay. Pensioners will get a 2.5 per cent hike in their basic state pension from April to £115.95 a week - substantially more than either inflation or the average pay rises workers are getting.4 Dec 2014"
NOTE pensioners handout? NOTE increase to £116 a week!
Apparently such excessive pension rises are not sustainable.
But compare that to "Queen in line for £2.8m pay rise in 2017-18" a headline this week and one from February 2016 "MPs get pay rise of nearly £1,000 despite one per cent public sector wage caps." That increase took effect in April "nine months after they received a backdated 10 per cent pay rise from £67,060 to £74,000."
Should I trust Mr Field and his committee to sort out my pension?
According to Wikipedia:
Two nights before the Conservative Party leadership election in November 1990, he [Field] visited then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street. He advised her that her time as Prime Minister was drawing to a close and that she should back John Major to take over the role. His reason for doing so was that he felt that her Conservative colleagues would not tell her straight that she could not win a leadership contest. Following this meeting, he was smuggled out of Downing Street's back door. Two days later Margaret Thatcher supported John Major for the post, and Major went on to be Prime Minister
Maintaining the status quo and helping the establishment is unappealing especially in a Labour MP. But he started out as a Tory and some things never change.
Having touted austerity and tried to make poorer and vulnerable people pay for the mistakes and mismanagement of others is the government about to move on to pensioners?
Many pensioners traditionally vote Tory. Most pensioners bother to engage with politics and vote. But generalisations are sloppy.
Either way hitting the incomes of pensioners is more divide and conquer and will fail to address core issues.
Will this also be blamed on BRexit?
British political scene
The next General Election in the UK may not be scheduled any time soon but the British political landscape is changing. With that in mind this blog will concentrate on the political scene but with a left wing perspective. Opinion pieces and news will bring you the stories that the MSM prefer to ignore.