Budget 1999: Case Study: The Pensioner - Savings - but not all we wanted

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The Independent Online
Ernest Hallett, 72, and his wife, Patricia, 61, from Leicester. Mr Hallett is a former print worker. His wife took early retirement as a teacher four years ago. Weekly income: him pounds 124, her pounds 162 from state and occupational pensions. They have a pounds 30,000 lump sum from retirement in stocks and shares. Outgoings are minimal.

THE HALLETTS spoke of their disappointment last night, even though they will benefit from an pounds 80 increase in heating allowance and a reduction in their road tax. The couple will save pounds 50 a year because they own a small car, but this will be countered by an increase in the cost of petrol. Mr Hallett said he felt that the Chancellor had let millions of retired people down by not increasing the basic state pension.

A representative of the National Pensioners' Convention, he said the minimum income guarantee of pounds 120 for a retired couple fell short of what he and others had campaigned for.

He said: "This no way measures up to what pensioners have been asking for. We want an increase in state pensions. All we have got in the past few years is a heating allowance and a free eye test.

Organisations such as Age Concern say that the minimum needed per week per person is pounds 150, and pounds 120 for a couple is so far short of what is needed that it is not even worth considering."

The couple have difficulty replacing things when they break down. "We can live and eat and pay the electricity and gas bills, but we couldn't buy a new television or repair the fabric of the house," said Mr Hallett.

He was disappointed the Government had not improved life for pensioners. "The pensioners' movement has had meetings with Mr Brown and government officials about what we require and they've ignored what we said. In 1979, the average state pension was 24 per cent of the average wage. Now it is 14 per cent."