/ Money

Are there any real benefits out there for pensioners?

Two pensioners enjoying retirement

Pensioners and retirees have had it pretty tough over the last few years. With poor annuity rates and paltry returns on savings, many have seen their retirement income diminish…

However, there are supposedly a whole raft of benefits and discounts out there to help pensioners financially, but do they really add up to much?

While the Government is looking to further cut spending, it has so far maintained the core benefits that are available to older people.

The state pension is due to rise in line with inflation, wages or 2.5% (whichever’s highest) over the next few years.

Pensioner entitlements

Pensioners also have some tax advantages over their younger counterparts, reflecting the large contribution they’ve made to the economy over the years.

Then there are things like free bus passes, senior railcards, winter fuel payments and cold weather payments available to people of a pensionable age. Free prescriptions and a free TV license also help older people save a few pounds.

Local and leisurely

There are plenty of discounts around when it comes to your leisure time. Museums, art galleries and theme parks will provide discounted entrance fees if that’s your thing. The likes of English Heritage and the National Trust will also provide annual memberships at a discounted rate. And cinemas have lower prices for pensioners who want to keep up with the latest releases.

One of my local pubs, with a good reputation for food, offers decently-priced meals for pensioners with a free dessert if you visit at lunchtime on a weekday. It’s a ‘win-win’ situation as the pub gets people through the door at relatively quiet times.

Have you benefited?

I’m sure you also know of local companies that are prepared to provide pensioners with discounts and offers to get their business. So I’d like to hear about the pensioner benefits or discounts you’ve taken advantage of.

They can be as big or small as you like – sometimes the local and somewhat quirky offers are the most useful and generous. Have you benefited from being a pensioner recently?


Sorry to start on a negative tone, but complaining about the poor income prospects of pensioners and then asking what discounts you might get on many “discretionary” spends – cinema, theme parks, pubs etc.- rather confuses two issues. The main issue surely is, with a poor income, how can pensioners in need be helped with the basics – food, heating, housing. The income tax benefit is small and diminishing, and will not help many poor pensioners (no tax paid); winter fuel allowance of £200 is a welcome but small contribution. I’m sure many of these pensioners would love to have the spare money available to go out and enjoy themselves at venues and activities that offer them discounts.

I contrast the meagre, and taxable, state pension with what benefit claimants of working age can achieve – being REDUCED to a £25 000 cap and, as far as I can see, untaxed. Is this a fair way to treat those people who have contributed to the economy for their working life? It’s time we made the pension a sensible amount for those who have contributed and are genuinely deserving. If this means diverting resources from those who don’t need the pension, winter fuel allowance, free prescriptions, bus passes and so on – those already on pension incomes that are more than adequate – then I believe we should. We argue, quite rightly, that all have contributed and should be entitled to their dues, but we are in exceptional times now with insufficient money to go round. Time to exercise some common sense and humanity.

I go along with that. I would scrap the Winter fuel allowance and free bus passes in favour applyimg the savings [including massive admin costs] to those who need the money.

To scrap the Winter Fuel Allowance and free bus passes would be the death of me. I wouldn’t be able to pay my energy bills, and wouldn’t be able to afford to leave my home, if I had to pay bus fares. I might as well curl up in bed and give up, and I’m a bit too young to do that yet. I live in continuous pain, but still try to get out for some fresh air every day – what point would there be in life if I couldn’t get out past my front door ? It would be utterly dreadful.

Isabel says:
23 January 2014

I would suggest to cancel ALL OAP benefits to Members of Parliament, (Common, Lords, Ministers, high level staff) who are already receiving good pensions and payment from all tax payers. They should set an example of solidarity with the low income pensioners.
Good night.

Jane says:
23 January 2014

and who would receive the money saved by depriving OAPs – Immigrants and 3rd or 4th generation Benefit claimants?

Richard Ford says:
23 January 2014

Added to that, the practice of those in The House of Lords who sign in just to collect their unwarranted £300 should be stopped….most of them are too old with muddled thinking to contribute anything worth while…some attend just to sleep as is often shown on the TV coverage

Mary says:
23 January 2014

Scrapping our bus passes would hurt the economy as pensioners also shop when they go out into town. The high street is already facing hard times this would make it worse.

Going out also improves your health therefore, pensioners are more likely to be ill and depressed. If they cannot afford to get on a bus and go out. Isolation is a terrible thing. More pensioners would be lonely. This would also cost the government more money in extra medical costs.

This is spot on
Governments from Thatcher onwards ( and maybe before) have bled the pensionable sector by cutting links to the real inflation for the pension , raping the pension fund tax breaks for those who saved and invested ( thank you Brown) , introducing ” granny taxation” by killing the over 65 tax breaks , removal of the 10% tax rate and of course , enforcing a rate of returns of 0.5% ( some 2.2% below RPI) on our investments and then Cameron has the gall to suggest we are better off.
No , I will not give up my £200 winter fuel allowance or my bus pass , the new pension rules benefit those born after 1950 (1?) and we are being screwed at every turn.
Unlike most of the benefit scroungers we have paid for our meagre benefits with sweat and blood ( rivers of it)
Time the MP’s and members of the house of Lords were put on the same basis as the pensioners – no inflation plus payment and expenses and golden pensions.
Time for the grey revolution – how do we hit this government hardest without re employing Guy Falkes or equivalent? Is the so called opposition any more credible in its so called policies?
These governments ( to quote Goldfinger) don’t want us to talk , they want us to die!

40 year old says:
27 January 2014

Remember God willing we will all retire at some point, lets hope our selfishness now doesn’t make life that hard for pensioners that we will be unable to cope when we reach that age. Some of our retired population can’t afford to heat their homes or eat well let alone go out and enjoy their retirement, as there income is not keeping in line with inflation and food/fuel price hikes. They have contributed to our economy and society all of there working life they deserve their retirement

peter hooker says:
28 January 2014

I entirely agree current benefits to pensioners is all about enhancement and health of the pensioner if only politicians would see this and the benefits they in turn provide the community downstream. These are the hidden savings that any intelligent politician should consider before thinking about tinkering with the system. They should also see pensions and pensioner benefits as something else than Welfare. It is not welfare, these payments have been earnt by pensioners over their working lives. Welfare is handouts to both the deserving poor and disabled along with the rediculous undeserving dropouts in our Society today.

david jolly says:
5 September 2018

And don t forget the house of commons wine cellar and bars and restaurants, all subsidised,And most people in work place establishments are nt allowed drink on the premises .But it seems that our mp s making important decisions for our country can be drunk as lords and frequently are at our expense ! Lembit was once carried legless allegedly to vote ?? and some former mps are alcoholics I hear with drink in plentiful supply no wonder there are affairs and the like going on ??

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I’ve been tearing my hair out to think of a positive benfit – then remembered hair cuts. My local barber offers a trim to “senior citizens” (nicer than “pensioner”) for £8.50 Monday to Thursday instead of £13. I take advantage of that 4 times a year. An added bonus is that the lady shearer who lowers my ears usually asks me for £13, and I have to point out I qualify for the reduced price. Nice not to look your age (or perhaps it’s a marketing ploy to flatter you).

Phil says:
13 January 2014

Well pensioners generally have less hair so it probably evens out.

Part of the cost is the search fee…

My barber also offers reduced prices for OAPs but I do not normally take advantage of this facility. Whilst I am quite happy to accept ant concession from the ‘authorities’ or large organisations, I don’t see why I should be subsidised by a one-man business which is, in all probability, suffering more than me from the current financial situation.

I’m not sure what an ‘ant concession’ might be, what I meant was ‘any concessions’!

Michael Tatman says:
25 January 2014

My friend Stevie gives me my usual number 2 for £3-00, Same price for any OAP.

My hairdresser earns little enough and I am therefore happy to pay full price – it is interesting to see that it is those who can least afford it who offer concessions. Banking, Energy and others who help themselves to most from the ‘common pot’ offer nothing.

It can be difficult to work out when discounts apply and it would be helpful if organisations referred to ages rather than unhelpful terms such as senior citizen or pensioner.

The discount offered by the National Trust can either be criticised for its complexity and commended for its clarity: “Members aged 60+, who have held National Trust membership for a total of at least 5 years in the last 10 years.”

I won’t offend my excellent Italian hairdresser by asking for a pensioner’s discount because his charges are already very reasonable. In any case, he told me once that I have too much hair and it grows too thick and fast – it seems he only offers the cheap rate to those with very little hair!

I think one of the major DIY stores has some special rate for the older generation of home improvers if they go there on a Tuesday when there’s an F in the month.

B&Q offers anyone over 60 a discount.

Fill in the form, prove your age and get your card.

The discount is 10 percent and applies all-day every Wednesday. As far as I can tell, it’s 10 percent off everything offered for sale in the store, no restrictions, no catches.

(No, I don’t have any connection with B&Q)

The catch with the B&Q over 60s card is that you must also take out a nectar card

Joanne says:
25 September 2015

No u don’t

tony says:
22 January 2014

When I got one recently there was no requirement to have a Nectar card.

At the checkout in the store we were refused the over 60s card unless we filled in the form for a store card

Can you believe it says:
22 January 2014

I simply don’t believe the confused old man. B and Q do not have any connection to nectar. Homebase, on the other hand , do.
Why is it that everyone just wants to have a good old moan.
B and Q 10% off and no NECTAR CARDS.

Thank you B and Q

Anniewoo says:
22 January 2014

I do have a Nectar card, but you won’t get asked in B & Q for one to obtain your over 60s card. All I did there was just fill a form in – may have needed proof of age (can’t remember), but nothing else and you can use it every Wednesday to get 10% off. However, you can use your Nectar card in Homebase! (I’d just got my Focus OAP card when they closed!!)

Mary M Green says:
22 January 2014

Definitely no requirement to take out a Nectar Card at B & Q.

22 January 2014

not so
ex b and q trainer

Robert Taylor says:
22 January 2014

They don’t give the 10% discount on kitchens or bathrooms.

oh yes they do, hubby and I got all replacement doors for kitchen cabinets at sale price with 10% discount with my 60’s card

Ernie Scott says:
23 January 2014

The last time I tried to use my 10% discount card on a Wednesday at B & Q I was told that it didn’t apply to kitchens or bathrooms.

Yes that’s right I was told the same at checkout for 1 toilet seat ,CHELMSFORD STORE.

David says:
29 January 2014

The answer to this problem is simply to join the National Trust For Scotland which is cheaper, has a special Senior Citizens Rate and still allows access to all NT Properties in England.

The confusion here is that you get 10% off on Wednesdays at a normal small B&Q store but never at one of their larger “warehouse” stores. This, I believe, applies to everything at the till. However I suggest you phone round all B&Q stores in your area to find out which are the more expensive Warehouse stores then shop at the others. You may be able to spot what you want at a Warehouse store and order it from your smaller store to be sent over. This way you might, if lucky, be able to collect it on a Wednesday and get the 10% off. Worth trying if carefully thought out. Though I think it very mean of B&Q not to allow us the 10% off at the warehouse stores as we often have to drive further to access them and they seem to have fewer staff to square footage of store, but it is a flat rule – no discount.

I think the important thing is to register your account at a big warehouse store. I did this and my card works everywhere. If you re-register at a big store, you can probably throw away the other card. But ask at the customer services desk.

As regards hairdressers, they offer concessionary prices to get people in when they are less busy and to be able to maximise their custom. Theatres also offer off peak prices to students and pensioners and you just need a leisure card to prove your eligibility.

Thank you. I shall try to re-register at my B&Q warehouse store and see what happens. And my hairdresser does charge us silver tops (love the term) less on Tuesdays. Makes a huge difference if one needs a perm.

The Diamond Card terms & conditions are straightforward and brief, so there should be no little what items are covered:

“Terms and conditions
The Diamond Card entitles the authorised signatory/signatories to a 10% discount on purchases made at any B&Q store every Wednesday. The discount is not available at B&Q Surplus Stores or for any online purchases. To receieve your discount the Diamond Card must be presented by a signatory at the time of purchase and is not transferable. Occasionally proof of age may be required when using your card. The Diamond Card may not be used in conjunction with any other discounts, promotions, B&Q Trade Account Cards or TradePoint.
The Diamond Card discount does not include kitchen, bathroom or bedroom purchases including associated accessories, installations, household appliances, carrier bags and Gift Cards. The discount applies to the store price prior to any further adjustment that may be required to meet our price promise.
Items purchased using the Diamond Card and requiring home delivery can only be delivered to the cardholder’s address, delivery charges do not receive discount. The Diamond Card is not a credit card or cheque guarantee card and the card remains the property of B&Q who reserve the right to alter the conditions of use, or to withdraw it at any time without notice.”

And of course, B&Q is convenient but cheaper prices may be found elsewhere.

Roy says:
16 April 2014

As an addendum. Today at B&Q Swansea( Wed 16/04/14) quite a few over 60s making multi buy gardening products, cement and decking etc received no discount at all. The sales assistants did not know why. They said the discount normally went through and maybe the conditions have changed. As most of the products I purchased were of this nature as an over 60 on a Wed I received no more discount than someone under 60. Could not see any real reason to have the card. This is my observation and opinion as I have only just received the card I cannot really comment on past conditions etc.

For me, the biggest saving since retiring has been cheaper holidays, making use of late bookings and having the time to look out for them.

I was on holiday in Malaysia a couple of years ago and was pleasantly surprised to note that they have reduced entry fees or free entry to museums, historical sites etc. for over 55’s including foreign tourists.

Yes when on holiday abroad especially package tours check PRICE against doing the trips yourself & tour operators price. Last year in Sorrento tour ops price for visit to Pompeii 35EUR each.We went by train 4.5EUR each on arrival found out over60s free entrance so saved 61Euro train took30 mins by coach 2hrs .with the money we saved had a nice lunch outside ,while watching the coach party’s being hurried off Big Smirk.

Phil says:
13 January 2014

Free prescriptions and I do like my Senior Railcard. I can afford to travel first class now.

Margaret says:
22 January 2014

Get your senior citizen rail card with your tesco rewards and save even more!

You presume that pensioners are able to take up all these offers that you mention. Many can’t. They don’t have good mobility or sight and hearing to get there let alone enjoy properly what is on offer. Everybody is now expected to work and there are fewer volunteers to transport people around. Many pensioners aren’t able to access the internet to find it. It would be good if some of those who felt that they did not need a benefit could re-distribute it really easily to somewhere or something where they felt it was needed and would be of greater use.

I know many people who feel that they do not need the winter fuel payment send it to a charity of their choice. I like the idea of being able to pay for something specific together with other people who feel that they do not need it this year. (Who knows what next year will bring?)

One of the interesting and very useful jobs I have seen recently is that of Eye Clinic Liaison Officer. This job is not funded by the state but privately by sponsorship. It is what it says – a person liaising between a person referred by a hospital eye clinic and a charity or charities. One person who knows what the different charities can offer and how and where to get help and it needs to be someone who understands about sight loss. The NHS does the clinical bit and this is the extra needed by people who are losing their sight to find ways to cope.

I also saw that a Rotary group was organising a cookery class for carers. A brilliant idea since many of those now doing this job never learnt how to cook at school – and many of these carers will be out there calling on the elderly. Another Rotary group was paying for the training of an End of Life Care nurse.

Action of Hearing Loss have a particular campaign where they have volunteers who help people get used to their hearing aids. This Hear to Help campaign would be a good one to be able to sponsor separately.

By far the best senior perk is the Freedom Pass. It’s the best present I’ve ever received, bar none. I’d be happy to give up all other discounts and handouts for seniors just to keep this one.

A couple of years ago I was told they cost the local council a mere £17 to issue each one! At that price I’d be happy to pay the council for my Freedom Pass, wouldn’t you?

I have never heard of a Freedom Pass. What are the advantages and how do I apply for one?

linda45 says:
22 January 2014

hi what is a freedom pass please

A cappella singer says:
22 January 2014

A Freedom Pass is issued to all pensioners who live in any London Borough and means one can travel for free on trains, buses,Tube ,DLR, Thames waterbuses. It is apparently worth £2000 p.a. I have been told and is worth its weight in gold as it gives one the ability to go shopping, to the theatre, the cinema ,museums etc at all times at no cost! Wonderful! I make frequent use of my Freedom Pass and really appreciate having it.

You can use a London Councils Freedom Pass on many local bus services in England outside Greater London as well as on all of Transport for London’s extensive rail services. What is little known is that holders of the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme bus pass can also use it on London buses – eligible visitors to London don’t need to get an Oyster card for bus travel. And what is also little known is that people over 65 with a Senior Railcard who live outside Greater London but also have an Oyster card can have their Senior Railcard “loaded” onto the Oyster card so that they get one third off London Underground and Overground fares. So now you can go to see Arsenal, Turnham Green, and Peckham.

Frank says:
17 January 2014

A quick and cheap way to reduce the benefit to “well off” pensioners would be to make them taxable, for example, tv licence, winter fuel allowance, and christmas bonus. Most people would not object to that, and higher rate tax payers would have more deducted automatically.

Taxing the WFA is the best suggestion so far and those on very low income will not pay anything. The bus pass is different. You have to apply for it and apart from the cost of issuing it, the local council only pays when it is used. Many local transport services are almost empty during off peak hours and if pensioners did not use the services would some be withdrawn.

Also, we should not forget that both of the above benefits were granted to pensioners by Gordon Brown instead of an increase in the pension. It was deemed much cheaper to grant the two benefits than pay an increase in pension. So, pensioners should ask if their benefits are withdrawn, will the increase they were entitled to be paid and uplifted for inflation.

Is taxing benefits a good idea? There is an argument that one part of the public sector paying out money simply for another to take it back is wasteful administration and unnecessary bureaucracy.

It’s also very debatable whether poorer pensioners should be treated differently from richer pensioners. The general benefits system is essentially a safety net to save those who have fallen on hard times, through no fault of their own, from hardship. Whereas we each pay for our pensioner benefits through National Insurance contributions throughout our working lives. Pensioner benefits are not a safety net and not charity. The concept is much closer to savings and investments.

PeeDoff says:
18 January 2014

Taxing Winter Fuel Allowance is a much better option than abolishing it, as many have suggested. The ‘rich pensioners’ who do not need the allowance can either pay it to charity or maybe contact DWP just once and ask to be permanently removed from the database of those entitled to the WFA. Many are too greedy to do this.

In these Conversations I have frequently advocated the abolition of the indiscriminate benefits like the Winter Fuel Allowance and Concessionary Travel Scheme because I have become fed up with the way in which they are always dragged out as political footballs whenever some politician wants to have a pop at the better-off. My support for that position is dependent on the savings realised through abolition, including the administrative cost, being ploughed back into those benefits [like pension credit] that are aimed at the poor and needy and not just swept up into the general state retirement pension where it will be almost imperceptible in its effects [yes, I know the origins of raises to these allowances as a sop for failing to put up the pension in line with inflation, but we don’t have to reverse down the same track] .While it is tempting to consider including these benefits under general taxation, I am not convinced the exchequer savings would necessarily find their way to the right targets. And let’s tackle the energy price crisis at its roots, not ameliorate it with miserly morsels of money that pay no heed to financial need, fuel consumption, heating efficiency, or energy conservation.

who decides who is a well off pensioner?My hubby and I have worked all our lives and put money into a works pension scheme as a consequence we now pay tax on state pension and private pension combined and the tax allowance is being steadily eroded we are also not entitled to any benefits other than winter fuel allowance, free bus passes and free prescriptions,We are not well off by any means and the hike in energy costs is crippling us.When I had cancer even Mcmillan couldn’t help us with regular transport costs to a fairly distant hospital.

I think that if people are wealthy and don’t need the benefits, they can donate them. If they are technically wealthy but can’t afford to donate, they should be able to keep the benefits without penalty. If I felt I didn’t need the benefit, it would be useless to try and give it back. Far better to save costs of bureacracy and give it to someone who needs it but the rules don’t let them claim it. Or to a charity that can use it.

I pay tax on my private pension but not my state pension. I use some of that to donate Gift Aided to charities that I feel are important to us all. I scan the market with the help of Martin Lewis to find an energy company that offers the best deal and is prepared to let me off price hikes if I stay with them. I’m not wealthy but I make the most of what I have.

I know quite a few people who have a Freedom Pass – and they are the younger pensioners.

It is a shame that so many older pensioners are not mobile enough to use this – and there isn’t anything to take its place for them. Lack of funding has meant that voluntary transport systems tend to now only cover visiting partners in hospital and going to clinic appointments. This group needs to be able to visit friends as well.

PeeDoff says:
18 January 2014

Taxing Winter Fuel Allowance is a much better option than abolishing it, as many have suggested.

Further to this – there is an increasing pressure on the ambulance service and hospital transport service (if there actually is one) as there are elderly who are not able to afford to take taxis and need help to get to clinics and as I recently heard even to A&E – which is now further away than it was.

linda45 says:
22 January 2014

hi what is a freedom pass please

Lizzy says:
17 January 2014

The free bus pass is wonderful – it means my Mum doesn’t think twice about popping into town whenever she feels like it.
My local garden centre offers over-60s a free dessert and cup of tea with a purchased main course on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Margaret says:
22 January 2014

I agree, and it keeps me and others out or the car so we are less polluting. Without the bus pass I would travel by car more, because it’s cheaper to park than to pay the bus fares.

A Brewer says:
22 January 2014

What is the name of your garden centre and where is it

Another pensioner says:
20 January 2014

Some people are under the illusion that all pensioners get help for everything,because we have worked all our lives….. I finished when I was 70…. And paid our way and looked to the future and was careful with our money,we are penalised , as the people who just spent spent spent and didn’t look to the future get all the benefits

Disgruntled pensioner says:
22 January 2014

I agree – I worked until I was 67 when I had to retire. Because I get a small company pension plus (not a full) state pension I have to pay tax so therefore miss out on any extra help. I saved during my working years for my retirement but my savings are getting less with little interest to boost them. If I had my working years again I would just spend my money and get all the help I would be entitled to.

I think it a great pity that we have a benefits system where people can take a view they are better off living off other peoples’ contributions than looking after themselves. If you pay tax you are better off than a lot of pensioners. Preparing financially for retirement needs addressing very early in working life – somehow this message needs to be got across much more successfully than it currently is. Tax advantages are valuable to retirement savings. Have we just become too addicted to a live for now, and let the future look after itself? Even worse could come when you need to pay for care in a home.

I worked all my life in the state sector – no I didn’t get a huge salary and felt my work as a teacher was a vocation – and now continue to work at 65 in a small business I set up myself, which pays me about £5000 before tax. It was compulsory to pay into the Teachers Pension scheme plus my NI contributions for my state pension. I don’t get a full state pension because I took a short time off to have children. I am not wealthy but I am comfortable and I am not complaining at all but I do get annoyed when we are constantly informed how much is paid out to pensioners with nothing told about the tax we pay: my state pension of £75 per week is fully taxed at 20%. I give my Winter Fuel Allowance to charity: I would rather choose the recipients of this myself than have the government give it away in Foreign Aid, which is what they seem to prefer to do than help our own citizens

Mary M Green says:
22 January 2014

I too worked in the state sector for most of my working life. My pension is small as I didn’t have a huge wage (and no annual bonuses). Paid all the necessary taxes due and contributed to my occupational pension as a way of having a bit extra when retired. I really get annoyed at those who think old folk have a fortune and cost too much. No one gave me any money for childcare, or reduced taxes to set against these costs. I brought up my 3 children with what I had as a household income.
Now there are allowances for this that and goodness knows what for those who are working and have children.

Not all old folk are decrepit and need lots of medical care. Wonder what all those folk who need attention for drug and alcohol abuse these being mainly under pensionable age cost the NHS/Police/ L.A.s,

Small as my income is I have still to pay income tax, so not only have I paid taxes during my working life, I am still contributing to the general pot.
No, I think the older generation deserve to have the allowances currently given.

oh I so agree and I wonder what the situation will be for those who don’t have property and have to go into care ?Who will fund them? Those who have property will have to sell their home to pay for care how fair is that?

My wife like yourself took time out of work when we had children ,we are now 70 &74 last year we were contacted by the D W P and informed that my wife was entitled to more pension for the years she had out off work she. got paid back from her retirement date plus extra pension. I think this. ,applys to yourself .Give them a ring for the price of a phone call you could have a nice surprise.

You, and many thousands of others, were misadvised when you “took time off to have children”. You would be getting the full State pension now if you had been correctly advised to pay “Voluntary Contributions” each week that you were away from paid work. Then you would be fully paid up for a full pension. I smelled a rat when I was officially told that I “didn’t need to pay” NI contributions due to either being in a very low paid job or non employed. When I asked why not or what would happen if I wasn’t paying weekly I was met with a blank stare and tight lips. I could get no reply at all. There was obviously a directive to mislead/ not inform the public of the consequences. I am furious. I have almost the full basic pension but when my mother dies I shall not be able to meet the fuel and other bills and will have to sell my home. The government did not and I expect still does not inform parents in the Services that their children should start paying Voluntary Contributions when they hit 16 to build up the pot. I was living with my Naval parents abroad and holding a part time job and could easily have paid the £2 – £3 a week needed. Absolutely no information came through to service families (including wives who now miss out big time). I suspect this was either deliberate or extreme dereliction of duty and care to personnel. We were misinformed or not informed of our rights. If banks have to make reparation for such acts then so should the ministry of Defence and for civilians the Ministry for Pensions. I suspect that the government is all too aware that someone might wake up to this and take them to court, So they say that everyone should have at least £110 a week. Some hope. If you have a few pounds from another source or are not on some other benefit you can whistle for your full pension. I have paid, or had deducted, ever since I became aware of this scandal. The only time I didn’t pay was when I was credited with the amount due to being a full time carer for my grandmother and receiving a pittance of a Carers Allowance (which took some time to come through). Before receiving this I was never advised to pay Voluntary Contributions, just told I “didn’t have to pay anything.” Very misleading for any ordinary person who might actually believe the official. Beware and inform your family members.

That reminds me of the labourers in the vineyard. Some of the people who spent spent spent, also worked even harder and were never paid enough to put anything by for the future. Or couldn’t find permanent work after they were 50 because of ageist policies. I still worked hard until I was 63 as a temp, but when I had cancer and was on chemotherapy I went back to my old job where someone else was doing my job and there was nothing of any substance for me to do. So since I was already on a pension and the insurance on my loans paid them off, I retired. I would have worked until I was 70 if I was in a job I liked and could make my own. I’ve heard this “Worked hard all my life” and found that some of these had their own businesses and exported the jobs of their employees to the Far East where they wouldn’t have to contribute to benefits like sickness, maternity or pension contributions, thus throwing British people out of work and enslaving poor people elsewhere.

Margaret says:
31 January 2014

This just isn’t so. I took off 12 years to have 4 children and I now receive a full state pension. I never paid anything in that time. I asked if I should and was told that I didn’t need to because I was covered because my child benefit showed what I was doing in that time. Whenever asked about this officially I filled in the paperwork and sent it back and the answer was always the same, I did not need to pay any contributions.

Margaret says:
31 January 2014

I have just investigated this further on thew .gov website.

“At some time during your working life you may have left work
to care for a child or a disabled person. For example, you may
have stopped working to care for a new-born child and you
may not have gone back to work for several years.
Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) was a scheme that,
between 6 April 1978 and 5 April 2010, helped protect your
State Pension if you were a carer. A new scheme of weekly
credits for parents and carers was introduced on 6 April 2010.
Any complete tax years of HRP you may have for any period
before 2010 will have been converted into qualifying years,
up to a limit of 22 years.”
So if anyone had children during that time they should have been able to benefit from this scheme?

I agree with what you say but and there is always a small but, if a person’s state pension is made up from earned state pension and pension credits any extra owed pension will be deducted. You are only better off if you have paid or had credited to your account full N I payments.

Actual minimum amount for single person living alone is about £160 a week ,married couple or couple living together about£220 a week. Off course as you can see it does not pay to live together.

Margaret says:
31 January 2014

I don’t understand this either, I have a full pension in my own right as does my husband. Mine is definitely the full basic state pension – I am 63 and he is 66

That’s right you have a full state pension because you had all of your N I contributions paid and the years you had out of work for the children have been. Credited to your pension. But a lot of people for various reasons had gaps in their N.I. contributions ie self employed who did not pay,working abroad unemployed who after getting back to work did not pay the extra contributions , they were told they could pay ,but if not it could effect their pension when they retire if they did not have the minimum payments to their account. It’s one reason that the system is being simplified we hope but don’t hold your breath.

Margaret says:
1 February 2014

But I was commenting on the various people who complained about having a reduced pension because they had taken time out to have a family or to care fro relatives. There were at least a could of people complaining along these lines.

Yes those people are the ones I was trying to advise to phone the D.W.P and ask about their entitlement to payments whilst having time out for children. I’m sorry I strayed from the point we started with..

Yes those people are the ones I was trying to advise to phone the D.W.P and ask about their entitlement to payments whilst having time out for children. I’m sorry I strayed from the point we started with.

Ken, Yes I were told I could pay to fill in the gaps from being abroad but when I said I’d be delighted to pay all the back years I was told I couldn’t because there was a time limit of, I think, six years. No matter how hard I tried they would not take my contributions for the time I was unaware of the system and at college abroad – (Naval/NATO family). But I do count myself lucky to be living in a country which at least has some sort of pension available. And I am now grateful for the winter fuel allowance and particularly for the TV licence. Having been a full time carer of my Grandparents and parents I would have gone nuts without the TV window onto the outside world. I am looking forward to making use of my bus pass one day, so I am not costing the council anything for it at the moment. All journeys to appointments etc. have to be done by car but the blue badge is invaluable.(Mother’s broken back and hip replacement). Granny was 102! I must have saved the state hundreds of thousands in care home costs. Delighted to do it to see my family safe and happy but it can be exhausting and a great worry. To others in the same situation I sympathise but do ask for help and advice. Some areas are better funded than others. Don’t take no for an answer.

Yes you are right always ask don’t take no for an answer. I’m not knocking the D.W.P people but they like anyone else can make mistakes or have not been given the right info. I myself was made redundant 5 months before my 65 th birthday on visiting the Job Centre I was told you will be on job seekers,I said as a joke first can’t I just retire,You can I was told but we won’t pay you I was told. But the person working at the next desk overhearing our conservation, asked is your wife retired which she was, then you can claim pension credits on her account which I did . Same office two different answers.

A Side says:
22 January 2014

You can also use the Tesco rewards to join Ramblers’ Association, improve your health and fitness, and increase your network of friends. Why not travel by bus (free) or train, do a linear walk covering one or two stops, then hop on the train home? You will feel so much better physically and mentally, have a lovely warm glow, and have saved on heating your home.

I do appreciate that many pensioners cannot do this, but this is addressed to those more able people who make age an excuse.

An 80+ years old Rambler.

22 January 2014

the author should get a pensioner lower end of scale
and let that person find and present pension related benefits to us,
in a usable useful format
paul the author can stick to other subjescts

aguafiestas says:
22 January 2014

Please remember fellow silver tops, if you worked up to retirement age, not only did you pay tax but also National Insurance contributions. This means that your state pension and its associated “Perks” are not,as so often stated, either benefits or “Perks” but the result of all those National Insurance contributions.

Not so actually. NI contributions and other state revenues are used to pay current pensions so what workers paid in the past was spent then on the people in retirement then. Today’s pensionsers are being paid by today’s workers and other taxpayers. We never stop paying taxes in some form or other. Even the pensioner with the lowest income also pays tax on fuel and other utilities, clothing, and many household necessities.

yes exactly spot on

people on state pension only do not pay tax and even pensioners get taxed on everything they buy

agapanthus says:
23 January 2014

I agree with aquafiestas. We paid our money in (via NI contributions) in order to receive the State Pension. The requirement was you pay a percentage of your salary for x number of years. If you lived abroad you were (are?) able to purchase qualifying years at a fair whack of money. Exactly as you do if you are making any other retirement investment. With any other money purchase scheme, it continues until you die. The difference is that this is administered not by insurance companies but by the Government, and has a huge base of people who are entitled – because they have contributed what they were asked to – and because the money comes from the taxpayer as opposed to just from NI contributions. Nevertheless, many pensioners remain taxpayers (I am one with a total income monthly of just over £1000) which can be offset against the cost.

In short, this IS a money-purchase scheme, just administered differently. If that is expensive to the taxpayer, then (I agree) it is a problem, but not the fault of the pensioner.

As I see it the difference between this and other “commercial” money purchase schemes is that the money you contribute is not ringfenced and invested on your behalf. Pensions are paid from current tax / NI income. So when an increasing proportion of the population exceeds reitirement age they make greater demands on the tax paid by (mainly) the working population. And, of course, we are living longer. To get an adequate pension it is therefore essential to make additional contributions to some kind of fund; the state will never be able to find the resources to do this – it struggles to fund the very generous pensions of the civil service. Perhaps their contribution to the latter should be scaled down to give the ordinary pensioners a better deal.
Somehow we must educate our younger workforce to save early and not rely on the state. I would also like to see benefits system for people who can work but don’t scaled back to put more into the state pension pot.

In the 1950s it was well known that there had been a population rise after the war. Governments have dragged their feet over providing transferrable pension schemes, and companies with a substantial pension scheme have been allowed to raid it to tide them over hard times, but never paid it back. In consequence, speculators ran ragged with pension schemes as Equitable customers (and others) found to their cost. As someone who remembers the instigation of Graduated Pensions these were never integrated with private pensions, and they were generally confined to salary earners rather than wage earners.

Civil servants were offered contracts of employment that guaranteed their pensions. You can’t penalise people who opted for what were then boring and not very well paid jobs with a certainty of a decent pension in retirement. They may be better off now, but did not expect then that they would be so. They just hoped that everyone else’s pensions would catch up.
There really arent that many people who can work, can find suitable jobs and don’t. An economics professor would find it hard to justify himself getting on his bike and finding a job as a waste operative as his skills are somewhat different, but one very rashly recommended that others in one boat should jump out and find a lilo to manage on.

Peter Mills says:
24 January 2014

my local barber on charges pensioners £7.50 & gives a loyalty card so every 12th cut is free

A frequent comment heard from some MPs is that many of the pension benefits, such as bus passes and so on, should be removed in order that pensioners can ‘share in the pain’ of the current financial situation. It is though they believe that pensioners have been insulated from the problems!

What they forget is that those still in work will be able to share in the improving financial situation by means of pay rises above inflation whereas pensioners will be restricted to low increases based on inflation figures that bear little relation to increases in their actual living costs. Added to this, those who were unfortunate enough to retire in recent times will have seen the value their ‘pension pots’ decrease quite dramatically as a consequence of, amongst other things, quantitative easing. This has reduced their pensions for all time, no matter how well the economy improves they will not be able to share in it. Those who have saved as a means of providing some additional income in their retirement have seen this reduced to almost zero as a consequence of low interest rates, the capital is not even keeping up with inflation. Again, the losses incurred will never be replaced.

It is in this context that comments about removing the benefits need to be considered. In my opinion, they are a small, but inadequate, compensation for the losses incurred as a consequence of, in the main, government actions.

Margaret says:
24 January 2014

I agree with the chap about the pension for years out having children,. I took 12 years out, but |I have a full state pension (and a miniscule private pension) Definitely worth asking!

david says:
31 January 2014

Currently in Seville on an extended holiday, a great saving is on visiting museums and galleries the entrance fee is always reduced for pensioners. We generally visit at least one a day, you may need EU ID, no problem your driving licence will always be accepted.

Sophie Gilbert says:
1 February 2014

Fred Goodwin is a pensioner. Hey, I’d like to be as poor as he! (I’d love to see him turn up at the local barber’s and claim his discount.) I accept that a lot of us see an huge income dip when we retire, but can we stop generalising about pensioners all being poor?

Sophie, 10 million people in the UK are over 65. 30 million people voted in the 2010 general election. Seems to me there is a powerful pensioner vote here – time we had a pensioner’s union perhaps? Most have the time, and many the knowledge, to make an impact. The National Association of Pensioners (NAP) could fight for the cause. We’d just have to remember what it was.

I love the unfortunate acronym for your new union and the ageist comment. Political incorrectness at its best. 🙂

As pensioners we benefit from free prescriptions. How many of the items lie unused because a) the doctor changes the item or b) the wrong item is sent? What is the cost? Why when you take an item back are you told that they are not allowed to accept returns even unopened? Given the huge cost of these things why not. A survey by Which may prove to uncover how waste there is and what it costs.