State pension labelled ‘insufficient’

May 3, 2007

More than two-thirds of pensioners believe they would be unable to live comfortably on state pension handouts alone, it was claimed today.

A report commissioned by Friends Provident revealed that 68% of UK retirees said they needed more than that which the government currently provides to ensure a decent life.

Research carried out by the <a href=”http://www.sirc.org/”>Social Issues Research Centre</a> revealed that just 4% of people feel they could live in comfort on the amount offered by the basic state pension.

Almost 70% of people, including pensioners and those still in work, estimated they would need £600 or more a month to fund an easy retirement. The current basic state pension is £87.30 a week for single people or £139.60 a week for couples.

The exact amount received depends on a person’s national insurance contributions.

The report also found that although seven in 10 current retirees have adequate funds to support themselves, those still in employment are heading towards a bleaker retirement.

State pension labelled ‘insufficient’ | Pensions | Guardian Unlimited Money


‘Jail life better for pensioners’

April 19, 2007

Murderer and kidnapper Michael Sams has said he is better off in prison than he would be living as a free pensioner.

Sams, 66, was jailed for life in 1993 for murdering Leeds teenager Julie Dart and kidnapping Birmingham estate agent Stephanie Slater.

Sams, from Nottinghamshire, wrote to prisoners’ magazine Inside Time to oppose a call for convicts’ pensions.

He said he had better living conditions inside Whitemoor jail, Cambridgeshire, than many people on the basic pension.

In his letter, Sams wrote: “Have you ever seen an OAP inmate in tatty clothes or scruffy trainers? Not a hope!

“Materially, we OAPs in prison are far better off than those in the community.”

“How many pensioners in the community, who are totally dependent on the basic state pension and live in rented accommodation, are able to spend around £20 on luxuries?”

“Most struggle to keep warm in winter, afraid to put the heating on, barely eating, let alone getting three square, ready-made, meals per day. And three or four choices at that!”

BBC NEWS | England | West Yorkshire | ‘Jail life better for pensioners’


New Labour cabal behind the decision

April 3, 2007

The decision to raid pension funds was the brainchild of a close-knit group of advisers known as “the hotel group”.

Before Gordon Brown became Chancellor, and for 18 months afterwards, all the key decisions were taken in the Park Lane apartment of Geoffrey Robinson, the multi-millionaire Labour MP and treasury minister, rather than in Whitehall.

Mr Brown, Ed Balls, his political adviser, and Charlie Whelan, his voluble and abrasive press spokesman, would gather to plan their policies.

They were a gang of chums, who drank beer and watched football matches on television, as they planned to seize control of the Treasury and introduce sweeping tax changes to fund Mr Brown’s ambitious plans for social engineering.Mr Brown, who had no ministerial experience before taking the second most powerful job in government, distrusted the Treasury mandarins, particularly the then permanent secretary, Sir Terry Burns.

Sir Terry and other key officials were kept out of the loop. So it is little wonder that Mr Brown brushed aside uncomfortable advice from civil servants on the problems in the pension tax changes – he no doubt saw them as part of the establishment seeking to frustrate his ambitious reform programme.

Labour came to power in 1997 claiming it had no need to raise taxes – and even promised not to increase the basic or top rate of income tax.

So Mr Brown needed to find ways of raising extra money in ways that were not immediately noticeable to middle income voters who had switched from the Tories to New Labour

The key figure was Mr Robinson, who had helped fund Mr Brown’s office in opposition. He knew his way around the corporate tax system. He provided more than £200,000 to pay for the specialist advice Mr Brown needed for formulating his tax policies.

New Labour cabal behind the decision | Uk News | News | Telegraph


Brown defends pension decision

April 3, 2007

Chancellor Gordon Brown is unrepentant about his decision to ditch a tax break despite warnings it could wipe billions of pounds from pension funds.

In his first public comment on the row surrounding the controversial 1997 measure, the Chancellor argued that it had been “the right decision for the future of the economy”.

Documents released on Friday under the Freedom of Information Act, after a two-year battle, showed the policy was pursued despite official advice it would hit pension funds.

They indicated that he was advised the abolition could leave a “big hole” in pension funds, wiping out up to £75 billion of assets and reducing pension benefits for future generations.

Critics hold the decision at least partly to blame for the closure of many final salary pension schemes in recent years which have left retiring workers severely out of pocket.

Channel 4 – News – Brown defends pension decision


Pensions time bomb

January 24, 2007

A former government pensions adviser has warned that 80% of people may not have enough money to live on in their retirement.

Independent consultant Ros Altmann said the UK was in the grip of a pensions crisis and criticised the government for presiding over a system in which employee savings had been destroyed.

Her comments were made as part of an ITV1 programme, Where’s My Pension Gone?, due to be screened on Thursday.

In it, pension experts assess the state of the UK’s company pensions system and examine the effect that collapsed schemes have had on victims.

As part of the programme, Dr Altmann warns that people should be aware there is a pensions crisis.

“I would say about 80% of the country needs to be seriously worried that when they come to retire, they will simply not have enough money to live on at anything like a decent level,” she said.

“If there is one person in government who is responsible for this pensions scandal, it has to be the chancellor. Gordon Brown has been presiding over our pensions system at the treasury since 1997.”

Former government adviser warns of pensions crisis | Pensions | Guardian Unlimited Money


No Chancellor has treated pensioners so cruelly

October 23, 2006

The Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) is a shameful example of political spin. It is based on false figures and has offered the tens of thousands of people who have lost their final-salary pensions little more than false promises and false hope.

The FAS was established in May 2004, under threat of a backbench revolt by Labour MPs. Gordon Brown has since claimed credit for the scheme, telling the TUC conference last year: “It is morally wrong that when firms go under, workers, through no fault of their own, lose their pensions.” So, he said, “for workers cruelly denied the pensions they were due, we have now set aside £400 million”.

The truth is the Chancellor had not “set aside” £400 million then – and he hasn’t still. Brown has repeatedly insisted that the FAS is financed from existing budgets, and he refuses to even consider allocating any new money until the 2007-2008 spending review.

Yet, more than 100,000 people have lost their pensions promises, despite being repeatedly told by this Government that such pensions were “guaranteed”. Both the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Public Administration Select Committee have found ministers responsible for what happened, but the Treasury has rejected both these independent judgments.

Telegraph | News | No other Chancellor has treated pensioners so cruelly


Brown’s raid on pensions costs Britain £100 billion

October 14, 2006

Gordon Brown’s notorious “pension stealth tax” has reduced the value of retirement funds by at least £100 billion, independent research has disclosed.

This is more than twice as much as the combined pension deficits of the country’s 350 biggest companies.

The calculation comes at an unwelcome time for Mr Brown, who has tried to reassure voters that he will be a prime minister “for Middle Britain” as he seeks an orderly hand-over from Tony Blair.

The new calculation of the loss to pension schemes resulting from the removal of tax credits on share dividends, a policy unveiled in Mr Brown’s first budget in 1997, is much higher than previous estimates.

Telegraph | News | Brown’s raid on pensions costs Britain £100 billion