pensions minister Steve Webb unveiled changes to pensions this week. He claimed that the reforms would give poorer workers and women better pensions.
But the propaganda didn’t wash—and pensioners’ groups immediately slammed the announcement as a “con”.
Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, told Socialist Worker, “There’s no new money going into pensions with this deal. The government is saying that there’s one pot of money to go around and they’re going to distribute it a bit differently.
“But the money’s there—the question is where you choose to spend it.”
The Tories say that their changes will provide a pension of the equivalent of £144 a week by 2017. But Dot pointed out that many pensioners receive around £150 a week already in combined pensions.
And workers will have to pay national insurance contributions for 35 years, instead of the current 30, to receive the full pension. Fewer people will achieve this as the recession deepens and more people are thrown out of work.
“The government is being disingenuous,” said Dot. “It will announce plans to raise the state retirement age. We expect it to go to 68 and beyond.
“But life expectancy is linked to class—the poorer you are, the shorter you live. Raising the retirement age will mean even more people, especially low-paid manual workers, never get around to claiming their pension because they will be dead.”
The government itself admits that the changes won’t help most pensioners. Fewer than half are expected to meet the conditions for receiving the full pension by the 2040s.
The government claims that its changes will give women pensioners an extra £9 a week. In reality many won’t live to receive that, or won’t meet the conditions to receive it.
And even if they do, they will still be living below the official poverty line. The fact that the Tories laud an extra £9 a week as a great leap forward is an insult.
Meanwhile many of today’s pensioners are left living in poverty.
“Some five million women pensioners don’t get anything near £144 a week now,” said Dot. “They feel like second class citizens.”
The Tories show their real agenda every time they talk of scrapping free bus passes or winter fuel allowance for pensioners.
Their real aim is to grab more money from workers while making it harder for them to get anything back.