MP recieves grilling over pension changes

“Don’t come begging us to make more sacrifices,” says the former chairman of Honiton Voice.

Pensioners turned out in force to give local MP Neil Parish a grilling over the Government’s planned changes to the pension system.

The meeting was called by Honiton Voice, formerly known as the Senior Council for Honiton, and there were very few spare seats available in the packed out Methodist Church Hall last Friday.

Mr Parish said: “It is all about how we deliver a fair pension into the future.”

He added: “Whether you believe we can deliver it or not, we will try and provide money for you all in what are difficult circumstances. We have a very large deficit to try and do something about and we have got to be fair about who pays for it.”

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Pensioners, some of whom had travelled from as far as Okehampton, heard that the age-related allowance, or so called ‘granny tax’, would help to simplify a complex system and no one will face a cash loss from this decision.

Mr Parish said that the change affects less than half of pensioners and five million of the poorest pensioners would be unaffected.

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The Age Related Allowance increased in April by �500, which will be frozen afterwards at �10,500 for 65 to 74-year-olds as it is equalised with the personal tax allowance.

A triple guarantee has been introduced to ensure pensioners get the best value for a basic state pension.

Mr Parish said the average pensioner is about �15,000 better off under the triple guarantee and that they will continue to receive benefits such as the winter fuel payment and free prescriptions.

Kathy Swain questioned why women’s pensions seemed to have been “forgotten”. She said: “These women give up their time to look after their families. We do need a better deal.”

Mr Parish said he would raise this issue in parliament.

Former Mayor of Honiton Councillor Vernon Whitlock highlighted the important role played by pensioners and said: “Somehow, pensioners are seen as a drain on society. What I would say is pensioners are key to our economy.

He said pensioners kept many charity organisations going both financially and by offering their voluntary services as well as providing financial support for their children and grandchildren and childcare.

He added: “If pensioners went on strike, the whole of society would grind to a halt.”

The move to introduce a single tier pension system will be worth �140 per week in today’s money.

Tony Smith, the former chairman of the Senior Council, added: “A lot of people here are at an age they have made sacrifices from 1940 when their dad went off to fight the war, evacuated to Exeter or wherever.

“Living in the 50s, right the way through, as we’ve grown older, we’ve put this country back on its feet. Pensioners here have already made that sacrifice. Don’t come begging us to make more sacrifices.”

Mr Parish told the meeting that the issues made will be taken back to Westminster.

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