Are the elderly getting special treatment at the expense of the young? A recent report says they shouldn’t be exempt from swingeing budget cuts. But should the most venerable and vulnerable members of society be hit?
Pensioners have got it made. They get state handouts, free bus passes, free TV licences and allowances for winter fuel. They’re even getting a planned increase in their basic state pension above inflation.
And what do they need that extra money for, anyway? They’ll only spend it on luxuries like food, bills, clothes and maybe the odd gift for their grandchildren.
You may think I’m being a little unfair to the over 65s but this isn’t actually my assessment. These are the findings of independent think tank the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA).
The report ‘Sharing the burden – How the older generation should suffer for its share of the cuts’ states that older people enjoy a privileged position at present and that they have been exempt from spending cuts.
The report claims that by including older people in the cuts, the government could save an additional £16bn a year.
Among other measures, the paper proposes that the cuts would include the abolition of free bus travel (£1.3bn saving), the scrapping of free TV licences (£0.7bn saving), raising the pension age to 66 by 2015 (£5bn saving) and the ditching of winter fuel allowance (£2.1bn saving).
Philip Booth, one of the authors of the report, said that:
‘The government has imposed many new burdens on the younger generation in how it has chosen to cut…They [the government] have let older people remain largely insulated from much of the cuts. It’s time this changed.’
He went on to say that the IEA review would lead to huge tax decreases that would benefit everyone, including the elderly.
Matter of survival
Now, while it’s true that the younger generation will be hit hard by the cuts, should we penalise those who have paid tax and National Insurance all their lives?
Gandhi said that: ‘A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members’.
Far be it from me to say that pensioners are our nation’s weakest members (my dad can still beat me in an arm wrestle and he’s 76!), but there are many who depend on their benefits to survive. If we abolish these and make them live on meagre savings and a smaller pension, we can effectively take the Great out of Great Britain.