What we want from the next government

18 March 2015

However the electoral dice fall in May, the next government has some major decisions to make to create a better Britain for people over 50 from employment in later life and care of our elderly, to the very nature of the country we live in.

So we’ve brought together a ‘Company of Elders’, all experts in the world of people over 50, to identify the issues they think the next government should act upon. Politicians, read this before May 7!

Here's a sneak preview of the article from Saga Magazine's April issue, featuring our money expert Paul Lewis. 

Can you avoid care fees?

Paul Lewis: Saga Magazine money expert

Three ways to financial fairness for the over-50s

Government policies of Quantitative Easing and Funding for Lending have dragged interest rates on savings down to negligible amounts – less than 0.6% a year on average and barely 1.5% on best buys. Which is bad enough, but then the interest is taxed!

And, worse than that, income tax is deducted automatically even from those six million pensioners who do not pay it. So they have to either register to get it paid gross or claim it back. No wonder £200m a year is snaffled by the Treasury that it should not have.

The answer is simple. Scrap basic rate tax on savings interest up to £5,000 a year. At the moment a complex, misunderstood, and frankly unintelligible 0% band for savings interest income exists, but only if that interest is the top slice of the individual’s income. Just scrap all that and make the first £5,000 of savings income tax free at basic rate for all. 

Make pensions fairer for everyone

Women born between April 6, 1951 and April 5, 1953 reach state pension age after 60 but before the new state pension begins on April 6, 2016. Men born between those dates will get the new state pension when they reach 65. 

End this major discrimination against 700,000 women and let them choose whether to have the old pension now or the new pension from the age of 65. Those who have already reached pension age and drawn their pension would be allowed to undo that decision if it would leave them better off.

Link inheritance tax threshold to average house prices

Very few estates pay Inheritance Tax. About five in 100. But the number is growing as rising house prices close in on the frozen threshold of £325,000. Rather than promise a massive one-off rise, take the politics out of it. 

The next government should raise the Inheritance Tax threshold and link it to average house prices. Make it £400,000 in 2015-16 – around double the price of the average home – then put it up each year in line with the Land Registry House Price Index. A tax that seems fair causes a lot less trouble.

Note: Paul’s calls to action went to press before the Budget

Saga Magazine's Company of Elders

Read what Saga Magazine's Company of Elders want from the next Government, subscribe to the April issue of Saga Magazine and read what these experts think.

  • Angela Rippon - Alzheimer's Society Ambassador
  • Dr Ros Altmann CBE - Business Champion for Older Workers
  • Tom Wright - Chief Executive, Age UK
  • Sir Andrew Motion - President, Campaign To Protect Rural England
  • Dr Richard Preece - Group Medical Director of Saga and Fellow of NICE
  • Richard Humphries - Assistant Director of Policy, The King's Fund (an influential health and social care think-tank)
  • Peter Kellner - President of YouGov Polling and Market Research Organisation
  • Dame Joan Bakewell - Broadcaster and age-related issues campaigner
  • Paul Johnson - Director, Institute for Fiscal Studies (a leading economic think-tank)
  • Dame Esther Rantzen - Founder of the Silver Line
  • Philip Connolly - Policy Manager, Disability Rights UK
  • Baroness Greengross OBE - Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre 
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.