Saga comment about the new government prioritiesThursday 13 May 2010
Saga comment about the new government priorities
The Saga Generation voted in their droves and their importance was underlined by Nick Clegg and David Cameron taking part in hour- long Saga webchats during the General Election campaign.
Emma Soames, Editor at Large, Saga Magazine commented:
We want to ensure that old people are not left out of the new politics. The coalition’s agreement published yesterday contains a number of points that the Saga Generation would support as well as one serious and disappointing omission.
“There will be great enthusiasm for abolishing the compulsory retirement age and restoring the link between pensions and earning,
But where are the Conservative proposals for a one off payment to guarantee residential home fees and the Liberal Democratic proposal for a weeks respite care for all full time family carers? Both ideas, worthy of support and in their manifestos, have not seen the light of day.
The areas of the agreement that will particularly impact the Saga generation are:
They are likely to support the proposal that some of the savings the Government plan to make will be used to support jobs and in particular reverse Labour’s jobs tax. But we would urge the new Government to do more to support older people who are seeking employment as they face severe age discrimination. The Saga Generation Manifesto called for employers National Insurance to be abolished for those taking on workers in their 60s.
The review of public sector pensions is welcomed and long overdue – 83% of over 50s support aligning public sector retirement ages and benefits with the private sector (Saga Populus Panel of 14,178 peoples Dec 2009)
We welcome the commitment to abolish the default retirement age. We are disappointed that this is going to be phased and would prefer they simply abolish this injustice today.
We welcome the restoration of the earnings link for pensions from 2011 with the triple guarantee that pension will rise by the higher of earnings, inflation or 2.5%.
The age at which the state pension is paid will increase to 66 no sooner than 2016 for men and 2020 for women and we accept that with people living longer and healthier lives means that the state pension age has to move with life expectancy. However, many of the Saga Generation favoured moving over time to a universal citizens pension at the age of 70 at £130 per week that would remove the requirement for pensions to be on income credit and remove the disincentive to save for retirement.
We support the greater flexibility that people will have with the ending of compulsory annuitisation at 75. However, more needs to be done to ensure older people don’t miss out on better pensions that come with taking the Open Market Option and the enhanced pension people can get because of their health or lifestyle. Taken together we believe British pensioners are currently left millions of pounds out of pocket.
Increasing personal allowances to £10,000 per annum will help many people who continue to undertake part-time work once they have retired from full time employment. But we believe it is important for the tax system to continue to reflect the fact that older people have being paying tax for most of their lives and that the allowances for those aged 65 and over, which are around £3,000 higher than the standard allowance, should be raised in tandem with the basic allowance.
The Saga Generation fully support the notion of introducing a banking levy to help the taxpayer recoup some of the money spent on supporting the banks. An overwhelming 85% of the 15,688 respondents to a recent Saga Populus Panel supported a special banking levy. (Saga Populus poll January 2010).
And we support the resolution of the Equitable Life fiasco that has blighted many people who have prudently saved for their retirement.
The one big issue that was not addressed in the agreement was the future of residential care, care provided in the home and support for the nation’s army of family carers. This issue is a key concern for the nation’s over 50s. There was widespread disappointment that a cross Party accord could not be reached prior to the General Election and providing clarity on direction in this area should be a top priority for the new Government.
For more information please contact the Saga Press Office on 01303 771529
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