Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Questions to the candidates: Pensions

Pensioners are better off with Labour. We are a long way from the days when Edwina Curry used to tell elderly people to stay warm by wearing their overcoats, hat and gloves in their own living room. Labour introduced the Winter Fuel Allowance for over 60s, worth £250 and £400 for over 80s. There’s also free home insulation for over 70s.

Margaret Thatcher broke the link with earnings, devaluing the state pension. Labour introduced the Minimum Income Guarantee, so no single pensioner has to live on less than £130 per week or £198 for couples. Labour increased the state pension by more than inflation and will restore the link with earnings.

Labour introduced the over 65s tax allowance, which has almost doubled pensioners’ tax-free earnings to £9,450 per year.

All this combined means that the average pensioner household is over £1,500 per year better off under Labour.

Under the Tories, Cheshire pensioners had to pay two-thirds of an adult bus fare and full fare outside the county. Labour has given all pensioners a free off-peak bus travel for all England and over 75s get free passports.

Mrs Thatcher brought in charges for eye tests, Labour made them free for pensioners.

Under the Tories there was no funding for flu jabs, Labour has made them available for all pensioners.

We learn about the future by studying the past. The Tories haven’t changed. Labour made all of the above available to everyone regardless of income, but the Tories are already talking of ending benefits for ‘middle-class’ people. So that’s means-testing and when they say ‘middle-class’ I believe everyone with a modest company or private pension will lose out under a Tory Government.

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