28 October 2008
Barrett calls for ‘fair deal’ for pensioners
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West today called on the Government to commit to a major increase in the State Pension and an end to complex means testing to deliver a fairer deal for Pensioners.
Speaking in a Westminster debate, Mr Barrett slammed the Governments handling of the pensions system, accusing ministers of failing to properly tackle pensioner poverty or protect the elderly from the spiralling increase in the cost of living.
Today, a pensioner living on just the basic state pension would be officially living in poverty. The current system relies on Pensioners to apply for the Pension Credit to boost their income and take them above the poverty line. However, take-up rate of Pension Credit stalling at around 60% and almost 1 in 3 awards are incorrect.
Currently, 24% of Pensioners live in poverty with 1.5 million not getting the money to which they are entitled.
John Barrett said:
“With the current financial problems, pensioners are falling further and further behind the rest of the population, hit hardest by rising fuel and food costs.
“Pensioners I speak to are only asking for a fair deal from this government and yet too many of them find themselves falling through the net.
“The take-up rate of the pension credit is shockingly low while the level of official error is unacceptable. Many constituents have asked me why it is that this government is so efficient at collecting taxes and yet so unreliable at delivering help when people need it most.
“It is obvious that the Government’s obsession with means testing has failed to tackle pensioner poverty. It is now time to strip away the complexity that has clogged up the current system and deliver a citizens pension that will guarantee pensioners a decent standard of living.
“With the Pensions Bill currently making its way through parliament, this is a once in a generation chance for the Government to introduce the kind of radical reforms necessary to give people the dignity in their retirement that they deserve.”
John Barrett was speaking for the Liberal Democrats in a Westminster Hall Debate entitled State pension and benefits for elderly people.