The Benefits That Dare Not Speak Their Name

Saturday 24th October

There are two benefits which are sacred.  They will not be touched.  In fact we do not even talk about them.  But maybe it is time that we did.  The first is Benefits to Pensioners. We are incredibly living in a time when on average (which is always a dangerous concept) Pensioners incomes are higher than average wages.  And they are going to get higher. Actual retirement pension, which used to be called ‘Old Age Pension’, is subject to a triple lock.  It will rise by whichever of these criteria is highest – the rate of inflation, or average pay increases or 2.5%.  And at a time of practically zero inflation that means that this will steadily rise and far higher than anyone else’s pay or benefits.  Then there is Housing Benefit which is paid to many pensioners who still pay rent.  Many are claiming Carer’s Allowance for their partners too.  On top of these there is the Winter Fuel Allowance of £200 a year and free TV licenses for over 75’s.  I am NOT advocating scrapping these benefits, but they definitely should be looked at.  It cannot be right that rich people are receiving a Winter Fuel Allowance at all.  And it may well be that despite these benefits there are Pensioners still living in poverty.  But Pensioners Benefits are ring-fenced for the very simple reason that these people actually vote.

The second group of ‘secret’ benefit recipients are M.P.s themselves.  And even our esteemed Prime Minister receives a payment for the mortgage on his Constituency home and claims for travel.  After the recent scandal of M.P.s Allowances it was all supposed to be sorted out.  The problem was that the people sorting it out were exactly the same class and mindset as the M.P.s themselves, so the nonsense has carried on and may actually be even worse now.  There is no way that any Housing costs should be paid for by the public purse.  A small list of reasonably priced Hotels near to Westminster should be available for free stays when Parliament is sitting and train tickets (second class please) issued for M.P.s with Constituencies out of London.  And NO other Allowances at all.  Each M.P. should be allocated a Civil Servant Secretary paid for centrally and that should be it.  And there should be a minimum attendance required.  Why should everyone else actually have to turn up for work and not M.P.s?   And we should simply scrap the House of Lords and all its allowances, replacing it with a Senate voted for six years on PR, one third being re-elected every two years to review and amend legislation with a more balanced view than the Commons.  But of course as M.P.s also pass the legislation these Benefits are hardly likely to be touched either.  But don’t pick on the poorest to cut benefits while these two groups are never to be looked at.

Anyway – rant over for today.  Have a good one.