Why should you believe a word David Cameron says?
He has repeated a pledge not to introduce means testing for benefits such as bus passes, TV licences and the winter fuel allowance, if elected (not re-elected; he didn’t get enough support for that in 2010) in May.
This is the man who “looked down the barrel of a camera” (as he describes it) in 2010, promised to protect the NHS, and to tell any cabinet minister proposing cuts to frontline services that they should go away and think again.
He is denying the state pension to increasing numbers of people with a staged plan to raise the pensionable age. Members of Parliament, meanwhile, will receive transitional protection as the pensionable age rises – meaning they won’t miss out. Members of the public fund 60 per cent of Parliamentarians’ pensions.
Firefighters could lose their pensions altogether because of his plan to raise their pensionable age. Iif they don’t serve their full term, they won’t get the pension – but they can be ruled out of service if they fail the fitness tests (and older firefighters are more likely to fail).
What good is the promise to protect pensioners’ benefits if they have to learn how to use the Internet in order to get them? Remember, Francis Maude has proposed this extra hurdle for senior citizens and you won’t see Call-Me-Dave speaking against it.
He has already ended protections for those who receive Pension Credit. From April, 2016, the ‘assessed income period’ system will be abolished and pensioners will be exposed to the same draconian system of monitoring and case reviews as the disabled and jobseekers.
And we have to ask ourselves how safe pensioners’ free bus passes, TV licences and winter fuel allowance really are. Iain Duncan Smith announced more than a year ago that he was considering removing benefits that are exclusively for pensioners, in order to strengthen his benefits cap – and we know that David Cameron can’t stand up to Iain Duncan Smith.
So, do we believe him when he promises now that he will protect pensioners’ benefits in the future?
Afterword: A commenter on Facebook has just pointed out that pensioners will also be subject to the Bedroom Tax under a future Cameron government – yet another backdoor way of penalising people who worked hard all their lives and deserve better in retirement.
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