Retiring type just manages to make ends meet

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The Independent Online
At first Rachel Notley's late husband did not want her to go to work - "It just wasn't done then". Now she is grateful that she managed to persuade him to let her, for otherwise she does not know how she would survive on just a state pension.

Married in 1934, it was not until the 1960s that she went out to work for Age Concern after bringing up her children and caring for her in-laws.

She took out an occupational pension at the time because "it seemed like a sensible idea". Now she is supremely thankful she did.

Mrs Notley, 83, lives on pounds 155-pounds 160 a week, compared with the normal state pension of pounds 61.15. Her occupational pension gives her around pounds 65 a week after tax; her state pension is pounds 82, [higher than normal, because her husband worked until thea ge of 68, as she did] and she also gets a small amount from her savings bond and attendance allowance. She also has money in a building society and is in the process of purchasing the freehold on her flat.

Her outgoings include, council tax of pounds 41 a month, pounds 8 a month for gas "although I try not to put it on so much", the electricity [pounds 12] and her car [pounds 20], which she needs to get around because of her disability following a hip operation. Her attendance allowance of pounds 42 allows her to employ someone to come in and do things like the cleaning, which she cannot manage. "I realise that although I have to make do, I am not as badly off as I could be. I can run a car although I have to give up other things and make sure I get my priorities right. But I cannot see how you could eat properly on a state pension," she said.

"I am so thankful. If I didn't have my own pension I would be on housing benefit and everything. I'm lucky as well because I have some small savings from when my husband died and I sold the house.

"You do have to think 'Gosh, that's a bit expensive,' if you're looking at a new pair of shoes. Even on my income, if you want something like a new winter coat, unless you go to Oxfam you can't buy a decent one for under pounds 100. Sometimes I go shopping and I see people with stuff in their trolley which comes to more than my weekly income."

She thinks politicians have not thought the pensions system through: "I can't see what the Government are going to do. There are a lot more older active people like me around now and I can't see how anybody retires on just their pension. You couldn't really manage on pounds 61 per week and I know people do but it is a pretty rotten life, particularly after paying into the system all your life."