27 1 min 9 yrs

Government is insane:

Better-off pensioners should voluntarily pay back their taxpayer-funded benefits, the Work and Pensions Secretary declares.

Iain Duncan Smith says he “would encourage” elderly people who can well afford to pay for their their own heating bills, bus passes and television licences to return the money to the state.

How’s about not dibbing out other people’s money to the better off in the first place? Oh, Cameron’s ruled that out (too many pensioners vote Tory, see).

Well no, people who don’t want to hang on to their share of the loot shouldn’t give it back to The Treasury. The beast needs to be starved. Give it away, give it to charity, give it to friends and family, but no way should the state have it back.

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  1. This is a daft idea and unworthy of IDS. Our system says that if you have worked and made contributions you are entitled to these things. If you are/were well paid you made bigger contributions through tax, so regardless of how big a pension pot you end up with, you are a bona fide recipient.
    Now if you choose to give that money away somehow, that is up to you, not the State.
    The problem is that this could end up punishing those who studied hard, worked hard and got on, whilst rewarding those who made no provision at all for their future, or have never worked.

  2. Right as ever gubbermint rewards the feckless punishes the productive. A tory should know better.

  3. I don’t think that your truly rich are riding the public buses anyway.

    And it would be a good thing for all if they did ride them!

    Agit8ed is correct – this proposal is unfair. It would change what are social programs into means tested welfare programs, which are atrocious ideas as respects pensioner benefits. Society owes a debt to those who pay more into the system, and should not swindle them out of what they’ve paid into.

    And I’d like to see what type of ” encouragement ” tha secretary will use.

  4. Means Testing is a necessity that must be implemented. It is now and always has been welfare no matter how it was sold.

  5. Trollio,

    I quite like /agree with a system in which some of the tax taken off of the working population is used to provide a benefits system for when you are (temporarily) out of work, when for some good physical/mental reason you can’t work, and to provide a state pension for your retirement.
    Now whether our health system should be privatised/part privatised/ wholly taxpayer funded is up for debate.
    Whether our State pension should have an absolute minimum, but those on higher incomes can put in more and thus receive more when they retire, is imo also up for debate.
    No human system can ever be perfect, and whatever system we have will always need to be reviewed to ensure that it is still fit for purpose.
    Any system must not reward idleness!
    The other great problem is when the government (yours or ours) starts to regard the money it takes of its working paid citizens as belonging to the government, rather than being given to the government on trust by the citizens.
    Since the second world war this is what has happened in the western nations. Governments have become over powerful, citizens have become disempowered.
    Whaddya think? 🙂

  6. Means testing for the retiree benefit rewards most the idle and feckless and harms the productive – who, over the course of a lifetime have paid far more in tax than low income / no income have paid. The ” better off ” have already paid far more than any fair share.

  7. Just how is a free TV licence, – not cash, just a slip of paper stating that you are now entitled to viewing without buyng a licence, and thus free from possible prosecution should you do so.

    It isn’t as though it’s s deposit to your bank account, which could be repaid or donated if one was so inclined. I’m quite sure that the Beeb doesn’t get a cash supplement for every pensioner receiving free viewing rights. So what is there to refund or donat?

    Similarly for those bus passes, – a pass that costs neither the govenment nor the bus company a dime, – they are merely used to fill the space which would otherwise be empty anyway. That most bus companies exist on government grants and handouts is beside the point.

    That the Work and Pensions minister should be so out-of-touch with how even the most rudimentary of his departmental systems operate is no surprise, – and it is scary to think that he was once in line to be our PM!

    When our supercillious, arrogant and thoroughly indolent representatives are seen to be taking their own advice and actually prove that they refunding costs, expenses and other sundry hand-outs which they can do without, then maybe, I might consider taking notice of what they have to say. – I did say maybe!

  8. “These benefits should be means-tested.”

    No system is perfect!
    At the moment the focus is on the poor and defining poverty. That is a negative. We need to get back to being an aspirational society. Close the loopholes that allow the rich and big firms to get away with paying hardly any tax -or go to something like the Troll mentioned, the flat rate system where we pay a percentage of our income, regardless of the amount.
    The trouble is that governments create jobs in the form of bureaucracy to manage a frankly barmy and overcomplicated system. Simplify it. Make employment more profitable than unemployment. Look after the truly frail/incapacitated and elderly, maybe use the unemployed for cleaning and tidying the community and countryside or community projects. But always the emphasis should be on getting back into paid work.

    IDS said on Radio 4 this morning that he was asked in a meeting about people who don’t need the universal benefits and he said if they don’t need them they could give them back. But he didn’t say they SHOULD give them back. He said the benefit is theirs to do with as they wish.
    I thought it was odd!

  9. I’m a little surprised that there are pensioners who a) Get a decent rate when they turn their annuity fund into a pension – around 4.5% seems to be the current norm, and/or, b) get a rate of interst on savings that exceeds the rate of inflation.

    With interest rates being so low for the past five years, savers, of any age have been indirectly bearing the brunt of the recession.

    Of course we all know that public sector pensions are not affected by such things as annuity conversion rates, – they are truly ‘golden handshakes’. That they seem to retire at such an early age – 50’s + and then contract to do the same job at contractor rates of some £1,000 a day.

    The following link shows yet another little scam that the public sector uses, not quite what I was talking about above, but no doubt available for use if nescessary.


  10. p.s. – Here’s another scam that has recently reared its ugly head.


    It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if many of those ‘benefactors’, were pensioners, and of course, be quite prepared to forego a bus pass, or two or even a £200 fuel allowance.

    That there are still many thousands of victims of Brown’s raid on pension companies who are still waiting some sort of settlement, and many who have subsequently retired only to find that their pensions are no longer what they were promised or expected, makes the idea that pensioners, in general are ‘wealthy’, quite ludicrous.

  11. Ernest,
    Quite so.
    Life is in a constant state of flux.
    You have those who have the best intentions and design (social/economic) systems that are as fair as they can be.
    You have those who will exploit those systems for their own political ends. By which of course I mean the Labour Party.
    You have those who either on behalf of others or themselves are constantly looking for loopholes to exploit..
    I think IDS is doing a good job and I think Michael Gove is too. But you can have Cameron and Cleggy..I gift aid them to you Ernest.

    The Agit8eds by virtue of their thrifty, nay parsimonious ways, manage to make their state pension stretch and stretch. Imbibing copious quantities of Bangladeshi vodka also helps…

  12. <i"David Cameron has announced that he intends to make it more difficult to claim benefits. From next week all the forms will be printed in English."

  13. Agit8ed,

    Yes we have the good, the bad and the ugly among our political class, however the real problem is the continual changing of the rules, to suit political dogma, with each change of government, which frustrates any long term planning of financial affairs for the prudent.

    For example – Bevan when introducing NI contributions in 1948, stated that the State pension would be 80% of the average ‘blue collar wage’, as is was then known, today the State pension is somewhere in the region of 25% of that current average. This is but one example of the continual tampering that does nothing but damage to personal and national economic planning.

    Political dogma and personal hubris aside, we will really will have to somehow stop these inexperienced, indolent folk who see themselves as ‘God’s gift to society’ from ruining the hopes and ambitions of generation after generation.

    I dread to think that another global war is the only answer to achieving any sort of stability, but it does seem to be the way we are headed.

  14. Ernest,
    the answer is to severely cut back on the ability of any government to interfere in systems which do not need political input.
    Local and national infrastructure could be managed quite easily by publicly owned and publicly accountable companies, whose soul raison d’etre is to manage those services efficiently and cheaply.
    If we are not happy with the performance we elect a new manager who has experience and (hopefully) will improve performance. It is a “performance” issue not a political one.

  15. Agit8ed,

    ‘publicly owned and publicly accountable companies, whose soul raison d’etre is to manage those services efficiently and cheaply.’

    Isn’t this what we had ‘back in the 70’s’, before it was decided to offer ‘the Crown Jewels’ for sale to the highest bidder, – and preferably it seems, – from anywhere but the UK.

    That libertarians and other devotees of ‘all things capitalist’ see the sale of basic infrastructure to ‘the private sector’, as being in anyway a sensible move, gives some indication of the narrowness of thought and the paucity of original ideas among the bureacracy.

    Of course we are all aware of the instigator of the sell-off, (she who must be revered), the motive for it being pure, unadultered, political dogma, – who would have thought such an idea could be so damaging to the long term economy in general. That the idea was viewed at the time with much trepidation should not be ignored.

    Energy costs are now a substantial item of our commercial and private daily overheads.

  16. Ernest

    What exact ” crown jewels ” do you refer to?

    The steel mills? Why should the govt have ever owned things like these?

    The water works? How has the UK taxpayer been harmed by those things being sold?

  17. Phantom,

    No, not the heavy engineering, etc, they are rightly in the private sector. I was referring to the essential infrastructure of any community. The vital elements that no community could survive without, and which, in the best nterests of community should have the ‘profit’ element reduced to a minimum.

    In other words – ‘run for the community, by the community’, – interpret that as you will, but it doesn’t include private ownership, let alone ownership by foreign companies or global corporations, whose interests are not likely to be the same as the communities.

    It’s all just common sense really, and in communal best interests, something that we have lost from our political sector, both here and in the USA. Their interests are more global and comunities such those where you and I live are of small concern to them.

    I hope this clarifies my pov.

  18. p.s – Power, energy and water supply, sewage, road maintenance and access, garbage disposal, – and posssibly somes other that may spring to mind. All require a communal approach to ensure reliability.

  19. There are very many areas in the US ( including where I live ) where the electric and gas provider is a ( regulated ) private company. It’s been that way forever. My natural gas provider was actually sold to a British company ( National Grid ) a few years ago.

    These things are largely natural monopolies, still.

    But so long as they’re properly regulated, they can work fine and are just as ” communal ” as a government owned facility.

    I want the government to do what it does best, and the private sector to do what it does best. Power utilities are something that the private sector can do just as well as the government can.

  20. Ernest,
    re my 1:15.
    I meant services, not industries. There has to be a way whereby energy and railroads remain under public ownership without becoming political or union footballs. Our country is too small to have lots of rail or energy companies, but we don’t want to go back to the bad old days either. Perhaps union legislation needs to be tightened up further to ensure that can’t happen?

  21. Phantom,

    Just a reminder that the UK and the US are two very different countries, both in size, population density and in cultural attitude, and we are very vulnerable to ‘attack from both within and without’. We are a long way from being a ‘world power’ these days! – so comparing your situation with ours is futile.

    I would hardly call businesses owned by foreign entities from Russia, China and many of the ME countries as being exactly trustworhy as far as having our interest at the forefront of their concerns.

    By all reasoning, businesses run as non-profits should be able to provide services at a cheaper rate than the privately owned ones, – if the managements are comparable, – and there lies the rub! – the indolence which seems to be the norm in the public service sector.

  22. Phantom,

    Well the US has long been famous for its corrrupt, ‘everything has a price’ public sector. While they continue to get away with it and bear little or no responsibility for their criminality, they will continue to do so!

    Honesty is for the little folk! – don’t cha’ know!

  23. Agit8ed,

    Ah! those blessed Unions! – the lingering curse of industrial revolution politics, and a far more toxic legacy than anything we have ever seen.

    What once had a useful purpose is now the tool of 21st century muggers, – used without principal or virtue of any kind, they are the parasites that will have poisoned and divided our country.

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