Letter: Pre-Budget trickery

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The Independent Culture
Sir: So, another bone thrown to pensioners by Gordon Brown in his pre-Budget statement. When does Mr Blair intend to honour his pre- election promises that "pensioners will share fairly in the prosperity of the nation" and that "the state pension will form the foundation of income in retirement"?

The state pension's foundation is crumbling: worth 22.6 per cent of average earnings in 1979; 17.4 per cent in 1997; 13 per cent in 2010; 10.8 per cent in 2020. This caused by removal of the earnings link, a policy perpetrated on pensioners by the Conservative government in 1980. A policy which, despite being condemned by Labour in opposition, is now being continued by a Labour government.

The result - a single pensioner now losing pounds 28 a week, a couple proportionally more and, shamefully, a single state pensioner losing pounds 153 a year and a couple pounds 224 since Labour came to power.

Free eye tests, pounds 100 per household and free TV licences for over-75s are no substitute for a fair pension. A three-per-cent reduction of VAT on domestic fuel, worth roughly 34p a week per household, is of benefit to every household, including MPs and Ministers of the Crown. Can this be Mr Blair's idea of sharing fairly in the nation's prosperity?

We paid National Insurance, based on earnings, during a lifetime of work to sustain those then in retirement and to give free education to all, in a contract with the government for a state pension as of right to give dignity in retirement. We did not contract for, pay for or expect means- testing and demeaning handouts in lieu.

CLIFFORD FULLER

Churchdown, Gloucestershire

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