Arguments used by the Conservative government to justify increasing the age at which we may draw our pensions are increasingly false, it seems.
Fellow social media journalist David Hencke has all the information on his website.
He says the Tory claim is that as life expectancies continue to rise, it will be impossible for the pension fund to pay out for everybody unless the pensionable age rises too.
There’s just one problem:
Ministers always quote figures up to 2011… [the] last year of any big rise in longevity which had risen for decades.
Since then the rise has flattened – in one year it actually fell – and last year was the first in five years that showed a small rise. Next year the ONS is warning will be the first year they will have figures of the effects of Covid-19 – and the hint is that longevity will fall because of the disproportionate deaths among pensioners.
When you compare the UK to many other developed countries both men and women have lost out big time in the longevity stakes. The countries that make up the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland) are all near the bottom of the table.
So while we all are being expected to wait longer for our pension in the UK, our extra weeks of life expectancy fall well below many comparable developed countries. We are being cheated – or at least not given the full facts – by our political leaders. So don’t believe any facile claims we have a world beating system for pensioners. Far from it.
The increased longevity argument was used strongly by the Department for Work and Pensions in its court battle to avoid paying compensation to 3.8 million women whose pension age rose from 60 to 66 – but who were not given enough warning to make proper preparations for it.
But our people aren’t living as much longer as people in other countries. What are those nations doing about pensions? And how are they doing it?
It seems clear that Mr Hencke is right and we are being cheated.
I wonder what we can do about it, if DWP representatives are prepared to perjure themselves in court to preserve a lie.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Boris Johnson: All smiles and ‘thumbs up’ now – but if he gets back into 10 Downing Street he has promised to crank up the cruelty against ordinary people like you.
This nasty piece of … work … thinks he’s going to be your next prime minister.
This speech, published by the excellent Rachael Swindon, shows Boris Johnson explaining why he should never be put in charge of a national government.
He would increase inequality – increase the cruelty against people of low intelligence or who lack the means to improve their situation – partly to spur a “spirit of envy” that he thinks is necessary for progress but in fact is more likely to increase crime and partly to give rich people a smug feeling of value if they give charity to the poor souls they have ground beneath their jewelled heels.
The clip cuts off before he finishes speaking but by the time you get to that point, you’ll probably have had enough:
This is the utterly stunning video that Boris Johnson hoped and prayed you would never see.
‘Steel Snowflake’, below, draws the proper conclusion:
Here's the benevolant wealthy Samaritan. Here he recognises all of what's wrong with the world, and makes no suggestion that it could or should be changed. What he's saying is that we accept it, and crank up the cruelty in order to compete effectively. Easy for him to say.
We see from this clip – that Mr Johnson never wanted you to view – that he has no intention at all of relieving the plight of the poor and vulnerable; in fact he will make it worse.
Bear in mind that this is not hearsay or propaganda. Play the clip again and you can hear it from Mr Johnson’s own mouth.
If you don’t want this evil creature to ruin your life for you, there’s only one choice: Vote Labour on December 12.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
#WASPI women in the gallery of the House of Commons, at first stood up and turned their back on @GuyOpperman, then walked out on him, shouting 'shame on you!’ Can totally understand their anger. #Solidarity to the @WASPI_Campaign.
Mr Opperman had just refused to provide any transitional help for women who are facing an increase in the age at which they will be paid the state pension.
Changes to the state pension age for women were introduced in Acts of Parliament in 1995 and 2011 and mean that, by 2020, 2.6 million women will have to wait until they are 66 before receiving their pension.
Mr Opperman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “People living and staying healthier for longer is to be welcomed, but the Government must not ignore the fact that it also brings enormous financial and demographic pressures. The key choice that a Government face when seeking to control state pension spend is to increase the state pension age or pay lower pensions, with an inevitable impact on pensioner poverty. The only alternative is to ask the working generation to pay an ever larger share of their income to support pensioners.
“In July 2017 the Government published their first review of the state pension age, which set out a coherent strategy targeted at strengthening and sustaining the UK state pension system for many decades to come. It accepts the key recommendation of John Cridland’s independent review which was to increase the state pension age from 67 to 68 between 2037 and 2039.
“The review is clear about increasing life expectancy and the challenges it poses. People are living longer. Almost 6,000 people in the UK turned 100 in 2016, compared with 3,000 in 2002. By 2035 there will be more than twice as many people over 100 as there are now.”
It was while he was saying these words that the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) representatives in the public gallery stood up and, at first, turned their backs on Mr Opperman, before shouting “Shame on you!” and staging a mass walkout.
This Writer can sympathise. Not only was Mr Opperman quoting inaccurate statistics about longevity – people have started living shorter lives since the Conservatives came to office – but he was also wrong about an increase in the amount working-age people would be asked to spend on pensions – the National Insurance fund for Great Britain was in surplus by nearly £21 billion in October last year, while the Northern Ireland fund was half a billion pounds in surplus, and there is no reason to believe that the transitional arrangements being requested would put that fund into deficit.
One particularly strong argument in favour of transitional arrangements is the fact that the women who are being affected were not given sufficient warning of the change and will suffer considerable financial difficulty as a result.
So the WASPI women were right; Mr Opperman should be ashamed.
The debate served a useful purpose – the Commons agreed to call on the Government to publish proposals to provide a non-means tested bridging solution for all women born on or after April 6, 1950, who are affected by changes to the State Pension age in the 1995 and 2011 Pension Acts.
No doubt the miserly Tories will refuse the request – they would rather provide useless tax breaks to bankers, after all – but their response will undoubtedly provide another nail in the coffin of the arrogant and incompetent minority Conservative government.
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Epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson. He ‘found that poverty and social inequality have direct and indirect effects on the social, mental and physical wellbeing of an individual,’ writes Maureen Tilford [Image: Linda Nylind for the Guardian].
It’s a classic example of failed Tory thinking.
They say they want the NHS to work properly, within the budgets set out for it – but then they worse conditions in society, forcing more people to seek medical help.
In this case, more people are seeking help with mental illnesses because of poverty that has been forced on them by stupid Tory austerity policies.
Only yesterday, This Site published an article on medical experts’ plans to record social issues including poverty as contributing factors to mental illness.
Now, people have been writing in to The Guardian to support political action against poverty – precisely to stop it affecting mental health.
Here’s Dr Maureen Tilford:
As far back as 1963, research by Langer and Michael found that psychiatric conditions not only occur at higher rates in the poorest areas, but also cluster together, usually in disintegrating inner-city communities. Money is not a guarantor of mental health, nor does its absence necessarily lead to mental illness. However, it is generally conceded that poverty can be both a determinant and a consequence of poor mental health.
More recently, the epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson found that poverty and social inequality have direct and indirect effects on the social, mental and physical wellbeing of an individual. It is clear that poverty and inequality are closely linked and that income inequality produces psychosocial stress.
The wealth gap in the UK is greater than at any time since the first world war and continues to grow. Unless this is addressed at a most senior level in government, the demand on the police will continue, not to mention the suffering of all those callers. This cannot be viewed as a purely health service issue. Allowing the wealth gap to spiral out of control is having serious adverse effects on the UK population on many levels.
And Reverend Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty has this to say:
Prevention of mental illness, and hunger created by low income and debt, requires an increase in taxation and unemployment benefits which many of us would be willing to accept. Central government is making households destitute by shredding unemployment incomes and then stopping them with the benefit sanction, allowing zero-hours contracts and by rolling out the universal credit. Local government then taxes the benefits and sends in the bailiffs to collect the inevitable arrears, adding court costs and huge bailiffs’ fees.
It takes a very rare degree of resilience for mental health to withstand three powerful government departments shelling out threats of bailiffs, prison, eviction and homelessness against a single debtor, who is often struggling to put food on the table for dependent relatives. As Psychologists Against Austerity have reported, such abuses of power are creating humiliation, shame, fear, distrust, instability, insecurity, isolation and loneliness in trapped and powerless citizens.
The link between disability benefit assessments, mental health problems and increases in suicide rates could be made explicit in a new plan announced in medical journal The Lancet.
Kate Allsopp and Peter Kinderman have called for mental health professionals to record psychosocial codes in official NHS records, to show whether a patient is suffering from the effects of social inequality, poverty or trauma.
Links between the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and an increase in suicides, mental health problems, and prescription of antidepressants are specifically mentioned, following on from a study covered by This Site here.
The proposal in The Lancet states [boldings mine]:
It is well known that poverty and social inequity are major determinants of our mental health, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur characterises mental health care not as a crisis of individual conditions, but as a crisis of social obstacles, which hinders individual rights.
It is important, therefore, that the circumstances that have given rise to distress should be formally recorded alongside the distress itself. Psychosocial codes… incorporate descriptive information regarding adverse life experiences and living environments, but are almost never used or reported in clinical practice or academic publications.
These quasi-diagnostic codes document neglect, abandonment, and other maltreatment… homelessness, poverty, discrimination, and negative life events in childhood, including trauma… problems related to family upbringing, and housing and economic problems.
Broadening routine data capture within UK National Health Service records could establish more inclusive, social, systemic, and psychologically comprehensive patterns of difficulties, which could target information regarding established social determinants of mental health problems, such as inequality, poverty, and trauma.
Imagine if it were as serious to fail to document extreme poverty as it would be for a clinician to fail to identify severe depression.
We do not expect that clinicians should resolve such difficulties; it is not the job of mental health professionals to end poverty.
Nevertheless, proper recording of psychosocial… codes in the context of psychiatric diagnoses is imperative because of the close relationship between the two.
The UK government programme of reassessing disability benefits… using the Work Capability Assessment has been associated with an increase in suicides, mental health problems, and prescription of antidepressants.
Transitions into poverty (relevant to codes [on] inadequate housing… lack of adequate food… extreme poverty; and… low income) have been associated with increased odds of children developing socioemotional behavioural difficulties, and individuals who have had an institutional upbringing… are approximately 11 times more likely to experience paranoia compared with those with a less disrupted early history.
As clinicians, we might be better able to serve our clients if we can use such data capture to apply more effective pressure on the political system and drive wider system reform.
Small change: That’s all employees can hope to get while company executives retain sole power to determine pay.
It seems to This Writer that Jeremy Corbyn has struck a nerve, here.
All he had to do was mention the possibility that Labour might introduce rules limiting executive pay in relation to that of the lowest-paid employee and a storm of protest arose – from the high-paid, the privileged, and the ‘entitled’.
It is exactly as This Site stated a couple of days ago – and as Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis has pointed out in an article in the Mirror.
“It’s a strange country indeed where the fact that top bosses earn more in two and half days than most people earn all year causes less outrage than a proposal to limit pay at the top. I suggest looking more closely at who was causing the uproar,” he wrote, echoing my own words.
He pointed out that claims that everybody benefits when the rich get richer are nonsense: “The wealth isn’t trickling down, it’s flooding up”.
Higher pay rates mean CEO’s are causing instability by leaving after only short tenures: “They are cashing in rather than aiding the long-term growth of the company.”
There is no point in ‘naming and shaming’ companies whose bosses take huge salaries and incentives while employees have to claim in-work benefits to survive, because: “You can’t shame the shameless.”
Publication of Directors’ pay was originally intended to shame companies into restraining pay, but has had the opposite effect, encouraging companies to compete with each other on pay. And those that might want to act find they can’t – because they would be paying less than the going rate, attracting nobody.
So it is the duty of government to act in the name of the majority.
Perhaps the only serious criticism of the plan to limit firstly the pay of private companies carrying out contracted-out work for the government, so that bosses earn a maximum of 20 times their lowest-paid employees, is that the traditional way of rebalancing inequality is via tax.
The simple answer is that it can – but not on its own.
If rich executives were taxed extra, solely to fund in-work benefits for the poor, they would bitch like hell that their money was being stolen and given away as handouts for the undeserving.
It would be a lie, but it’s one they like to use.
The Tories also like to claim that the higher-paid would simply find ways to avoid paying tax if the rate was higher than it is now – which is why they have been merrily cutting back the amount that they and their rich friends contribute.
No – pay needs to be re-balanced so that working people receive the amount they deserve.
Has anybody ever explained what company executives do that is so deserving of – what is it now? – 180 times as much remuneration as the people who actually generate their firm’s profits? Anyone?
Taxation is appropriate, as Mr Lewis writes – but only in conjunction with fair pay ratios. A higher tax rate for people earning obscene amounts could only be seen as fair if it is combined with tax breaks for firms that offer fair pay. It has been suggested that such businesses could even be rewarded with a British Standards ‘kite mark’.
So the idea of a maximum pay level, set at a certain multiple of minimum pay at any given firm, is sound.
Suspicion should not be heaped on Jeremy Corbyn, Clive Lewis and Labour for suggesting it.
It is not an unrealistic idea, as many have claimed – in fact several other countries have already implemented it, but your bosses probably didn’t want you to know that. Take a look at this Skwawkbox article for details.
Instead, let us place blame for the current situation where it is due – on the corporate mouthpieces who try to suppress any action that may hinder their rampant, naked greed.
Jeremy Corbyn said a maximum wage was needed ‘if we want to live in a more egalitarian society and fund our public services’ [Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA].
Isn’t it interesting how the media have latched onto what is actually a well-known Jeremy Corbyn preference, and tried to make it seem loony?
Mr Corbyn has been saying he wants legislation to describe a maximum wage for the highest earners, at least since he became leader of the Labour Party in 2015.
Suddenly it is big news, and his own earnings of £138,000 a year were plastered all over our TV screens during the morning reports – a lot when compared to yours or mine, perhaps, but a paltry sum next to those of the company execs who earned more than all of us, including Mr Corbyn, by the end of last week.
Some boardroom suits take home around £5 million every year; some take more. Meanwhile they force employees onto starvation wages that mean they have to claim from the benefit system to survive. Do you think that is reasonable? Because I don’t.
Reporters pressed Mr Corbyn to explain what he thought the maximum wage should be – but this is a diversionary tactic to make it seem silly, and completely misses the point.
Why should a maximum wage be a set figure? Surely it should depend on a company’s turnover and the amount the lowest-paid employees receive, shouldn’t it?
And what about those of us who aren’t part of a company but earn every penny we make by our own efforts?
What about movie stars? A particular name on a film poster can make a huge difference to its takings, and that can depend on the pay packet they receive. If everybody involved will get more as a result of their involvement, why not offer them the big bucks?
Other commentators have already suggested a ratio between the lowest-earning members of a business and those at the top. But it would be unfair to pluck arbitrary figures out of the air.
Logically, an organisation would need to be set up, if one did not exist already (the High Pay Centre, anyone?) to arrive at a logical set of terms for maximum pay.
Demanding figures from a politician in the middle of an off-the-cuff interview is unrealistic.
That’s why they do it, of course.
Jeremy Corbyn has called for a maximum wage for the highest earners, saying he fears Brexit will see the UK become a “grossly unequal, bargain basement economy”.
The Labour leader would not give specific figures, but said radical action was needed to address inequality. “I would like there to be some kind of high earnings cap, quite honestly,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday.
When asked at what level the cap should be set, he replied: “I can’t put a figure on it and I don’t want to at the moment. The point I’m trying to make is that we have the worst levels of income disparity of most of the OECD countries.
“It is getting worse. And corporate taxation is a part of it. If we want to live in a more egalitarian society, and fund our public services, we cannot go on creating worse levels of inequality.”
Corbyn, who earns about £138,000 a year, later told Sky News he anticipated any maximum wage would be “somewhat higher than that”.
Maybe improved childcare could have a positive effect, many years from now, but I don’t see it helping immediately.
I don’t see how it would close the gap between female and male pay, although reducing worries about the cost of looking after children certainly might help families remain together. What about other reasons for them splitting, though?
There is no possibility of a meaningful rise in the minimum wage (don’t patronise us by calling it a “National Living Wage”, Tories) or a link between benefits and inflation while we have a Conservative government.
Nor will the regions and devolved legislatures receive anything from a Tory central government.
Perhaps the research demonstrates exactly how its suggestions can be implemented but without that piece of the puzzle, this is building castles in the sky.
Improved childcare has been identified as the single policy that could do most to reduce income inequality, in research at Heriot-Watt University.
That could be allied to closing the gap between women’s and men’s pay, and finding ways to help families remain together.
Raising the minimum wage and linking benefits to inflation is seen as effective.
A boost to the regions and nations of Britain would also have an impact.
This would, according to the research, spread prosperity more evenly around the UK.
However, the Edinburgh research found that increases in part-time pay, encouragement to take up unclaimed benefits, and efforts to increase housing supply had less effect on inequality.
Jeremy Corbyn’s detractors need to start accepting that they are on the wrong side of the argument; Labour’s membership wants a party of conviction – not one that goes any way they wind blows.
Detractors of Jeremy Corbyn are pushing hard to discredit him any way they can – see yesterday’s article on Alastair Campbell for an example. But the arguments put forward by these critics lack depth.
In his latest article, Professor Simon Wren-Lewis has been exploring whether the Corbyn phenomenon also lacks depth or if there is indeed something to it. It is perceptive in that it examines the issues rather than the personalities, and exposes weaknesses that we all knew existed in Labour policy – but that some of us choose not to acknowledge.
Well, it’s time to acknowledge them! This is only an excerpt from the article and you are heartily advised to visit Mainly Macro for the rest of it.
Whether Corbyn wins or loses, Labour MPs and associated politicos have to recognise that his popularity is not the result of entryism, or some strange flight of fancy by Labour’s quarter of a million plus members, but a consequence of the political strategy and style that lost the 2015 election. They should reflect that if they are so sure they know what will win elections, how come they failed to predict the Corbyn phenomenon. A large proportion of the membership believe that Labour will not win again by accepting the current political narrative on austerity or immigration or welfare or inequality and offering only marginal changes to current government policy. On economic policy in particular they need to offer reasons for voters to believe that there are alternatives to the current status quo of poor quality jobs, deteriorating public services and infrastructure, and growing poverty alongside gross inequality at the top. That means, whether he wins or loses, working with the Corbyn phenomenon rather than dismissing it.
It is nonsense to suggest that the Labour party membership has suddenly become markedly more left wing than it used to be. Corbyn’s popularity has much more to do with how the party in parliament has responded to both election defeats.
The reaction of most of the parliamentary party to the 2015 defeat seems to be that the pre-2015 strategy was right in principle but had just not focused enough in placating the marginal English voter, which they believe means more appeasement and shifting further to the right. The party membership seems to have reacted very differently to the 2015 defeat. The membership appears to believe that the pre-2015 strategy has clearly failed, and it is time to start talking with conviction about the issues you believe in. This is exactly what Jeremy Corbyn does: he is a conviction politician, who is not prepared to try and be someone else to win votes.
If Labour is to have any hope in 2020 it has to start attacking Osborne’s unnecessary and obsessive austerity, as well as getting the past history straight. There are also reasons for thinking that the power of deficit fetishism for voters will steadily decline. In that sense, on this issue and perhaps others, Corbyn seems to have an advantage.
Why do commentators like The Guardian think George Osborne’s plans will make life hard for his political opponents, when they are specifically designed to increase inequality and reduce prosperity across the UK?
You’d have to be an economic imbecile not to understand that his plan for permanent budget surpluses will shrink the national economy, while his tax breaks for the very rich and corporations mean the money that remains will float upwards to the very few people favoured by those changes.
If you don’t understand, think of it this way: Governments create money – they have to, otherwise you wouldn’t have any to spend or pay in taxes. The pound in your pocket had to come from somewhere, and while it may originally have been supported by precious metals or minerals of equivalent value, those days are far behind us.
So, governments create money and invest it in the national economy. If all goes to plan, the money circulates, gaining value on the way through, until it is reclaimed by the government as tax revenue. Even if the amount of tax claimed back was as much as the original value of the money, the economy should still have grown by however much extra value the money has accrued during its journey (the ‘multiplier’ effect).
Osborne wants to take back more money than his government releases. This means somebody will have to lose out – and the system of tax breaks and permitted tax avoidance for the rich (Tory Party donors) means it is going to be the people who do the actual work, who are searching for work, or who are unable to work because of illness, who will be unfairly penalised by this plan.
He can’t claim any of the credit for it, either – it was all worked out back in the 1970s by Margaret Thatcher, Keith Joseph and Nicholas Ridley. Their plan was to create insecurity among those who have to work for a living in order to increase the gap between the amount they earned and the amount their bosses earned. Thatcher lied about this, right up to her very last day as Prime Minister.
The Guardian‘s article on Osborne’s Mansion House speech says that he will challenge the Labour Party “to decide whether it wants to back the proposal that tax revenues should cover spending on both infrastructure and the day-to-day running of government”.
Why? Labour does not have to accept the premise of the question. Important conditions are omitted from it.
For example, if Labour was asked to back the proposal, along with plans to ensure that minimum wages would always be able to cover the cost of living – without the government subsidising employers in tax credits, landlords in housing benefit or lenders in subsidies to the City of London, that would be a far more enticing proposition. But Osborne isn’t offering that.
If Labour was asked to back the proposal on the condition that the extra money necessary to reduce the deficit and debt came from those who could most easily afford it – the corporations and shareholders who are currently reaping the benefits of five years of Conservative economic mismanagement, that would be far more interesting. But Osborne isn’t offering that.
Furthermore, Osborne can only dictate what his government will do. He can’t tell Labour what to do if Labour wins the next election because no government can bind the next. Any claim that he can do otherwise is a lie.
But then, we have already been shown that he has been lying. He will say: “The result of this recent British election – and the comprehensive rejection of those who argued for more borrowing and more spending – gives our nation the chance to entrench a new settlement.”
This is a jab at Labour’s plan to run a surplus on day-to-day spending, but to borrow for investment projects. This is not “more borrowing and more spending”, as Osborne describes it, but investment with a view to see profits in the future. That business principle has been around since commerce began – it’s how most Tory donors operate. Osborne is a hypocrite to scorn it.
But then, Osborne has borrowed more money in five years than every Labour Chancellor put together. That’s hypocrisy on a grand scale!
The Guardian article continues: “During the election, Labour struggled to cope with the accusation that it had spent and borrowed too much in the years leading up to the financial crisis. Some of the contenders to replace Ed Miliband as opposition leader have said subsequently the public finances should have been in a healthy state in the last years of a 15-year period of economic expansion lasting from 1992 to 2007.”
This indicates confusion on the part of the article’s author. Labour did not borrow and spend too much in the run-up to the financial crisis; the nation’s finances were in a much healthier state than at any time under Conservative control in the previous 40 years – and let’s not forget that the Conservatives supported Labour’s spending plans throughout this period.
Furthermore, the crisis was caused by bankers who were too loosely regulated, granting loans irresponsibly to people who could not pay them back. At the time, the Conservative Party was pushing Labour to deregulate banks even further.
So we know that the financial crisis would have been much, much worse if the Conservatives had been in office at the time. Osborne’s criticism of Labour is in extremely poor taste.
Talking of extremely poor taste, here’s more of Osborne’s speech. It seems he wants “a settlement where it is accepted across the political spectrum that without sound public finances, there is no economic security for working people; that the people who suffer when governments run unsustainable deficits are not the richest but the poorest; and that therefore, in normal times, governments of the left as well as the right should run a budget surplus to bear down on debt and prepare for an uncertain future.”
Like all clever lies, this contains a few truths. He’s right that without sound public finances, there’s no security for working people. Osborne’s plan for the public finances is particularly unsound – and targets people who have to work for a living with particular hardship.
But it is not necessarily true that the poorest suffer most when governments run unsustainable deficits. This government has singled out the poorest for suffering because it wants to ensure rich Tory donors can continue enriching the Tory party – we are living in extremely corrupt times.
His final claim – that all governments should cut debt to prepare for “an uncertain future” would have more weight if Conservative governments had not created much of that uncertainty themselves, by dismantling the UK’s industrial base and relying instead on the financial sector that let us all down so badly.
Osborne is full of hot air – but his plan won’t fly.
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