'We'd like pensions linked to earnings, but this is the best we've had for some time'

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Rita Booth, 74, a widow, said that the announcements amounted to "the best Budget for pensioners for more than 10 years".

Rita Booth, 74, a widow, said that the announcements amounted to "the best Budget for pensioners for more than 10 years".

Mrs Booth, who owns her own home in Nailsea, Avon, and lives on a state pension of £72.02 a week plus an occupational pension of £44.07 a month, said pensioners would welcome the changes and that many would benefit.

The £5 a week for single pensioners was better than expected, and other changes were welcome too, she said.

But, despite the changes, most pensioners still wanted pensions to be linked in future to earnings, she said. "Pensioners will be very pleased. They will feel that this Government is at last doing something of consequence for them, and not just giving a few pence. This will redeem them in the eyes of pensioners.

"As well as the increases in allowances, the minimum income guarantee is being raised," she said.

"This is really good news because it means that many pensioners on a small occupational pension will be able to have the minimum income guarantee which opens up so many doors for them," she said. "It helps them to get free home care, for example.

"In all the years the Conservatives were in office they didn't help the pensioner at all. This Government is trying to address that shortcoming, and we must give credit where it is due. It has done its best with this Budget.

"Most of us would like to see a return to having links with earnings, but this is the best we have had for some time," she said.

One of the problems was that people who made decisions about pensions had no idea what life on less than £80 a week was like, she said.

"When you own your own property you have to pay the going rates for work on your home. On the pittance we get, we have to pay the same as young people who are working, as well as VAT. It means that we can't keep abreast of what we ought to be doing. If we want to keep our homes together and prevent them deteriorating, we have to pay going rate.

"I have to pay for petrol for my 17-year-old car, and I have to put away £40 a week for the running of the home and I try to save another £10 for the maintenance - it costs £500 to have the house painted. I am left with £32 a week to live on and that has to pay for food, clothes, petrol bus fares and all the rest of it.

"There are those little extra too," she said. "When you have five grandchildren, Christmas can be quite expensive."

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