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Pensioners weren't treated badly under Labour
IN response to Mr Cunliffe’s letter “Pensioners are being victimised”, I share his disgust at the latest changes to personal allowances from 2013; frozen for those over the age of 65, and for those turning 65 after April 2013 kept at the normal level.
This will be a serious potential loss to those pensioners on incomes over £10,000.
However, Mr Cunliffe’s quote that pensioners were badly treated under the previous Labour Government is, in my opinion, quite wrong.
In 2001, the Labour Government introduced the minimum guarantee and later pension credit. When they came to power in 1997, a single pensioner could receive income up to £68.60 per week, and for couples £106.80 per week.
By 2001 this had risen to £92.15 and £140.55 per week. There were very substantial increases for the very poorest pensioners.
In addition, to compensate those pensioners who had small occupational/private pensions and had savings from 2003, those over 65 years could receive a pension savings credit of up to £18 per week for a single person and £21 for couples.
These pensioners were the ones who had previously been excluded via means testing due to occupational/private pensions or savings. This measure entitled many of those pensioners to maximum housing/council tax benefits and extra cash.
Millions of pensioners all over the country benefited massively from these changes, and no more so than in St Helens; thousands of pensioners were better off, and St Helens put money into their ‘Feel the Benefit’ campaign, encouraging those who had traditionally always been over the limit to claim.
Many of these people were house rich cash poor, and were extremely happy about the change in their circumstances.
Unfortunately, some people have very short memories, and especially if it doesn’t affect them personally.
I know that if my late father, who had a £15 per week occupational pension from UGB, had lived to see these improvements, he and my mother would have been £25 per week better off – that was the real improvement.