David Cameron has been accused of trying to “bribe” pensioners while saddling younger people with government debt, after he promised to maintain state benefits for all old people.
Mr Cameron said his 2010 promise to preserve winter fuel allowances, free TV licences and bus passes regardless of pensioners’ income would last as long as he remains prime minister. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have promised to restrict the winter fuel payments for better off pensioners.
But critics accused the Conservatives of playing a cynical “generation game” to woo the “grey vote” because the over-65s are the most likely group to vote in May’s general election. Pensioners’ perks cost about £3bn a year and the Tories have pledged to find a further £12bn cuts in welfare if they remain in power.
Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute for Economic Affairs, said:
“Politicians must stop trying to woo elderly voters at the expense of other generations. The elderly cannot remain immune to public spending restraint and abolishing these benefits would help ease the burden on the working age population.”
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said:
“It’s hard to shake the suspicion that austerity stops at 65. The extraordinary debt that politicians have racked up will weigh very heavily on our children and grandchildren, and continuing these policies into the next parliament will only add to that potentially back-breaking burden. Politicians must stop attempting to bribe certain voters with special favours, show some backbone, and think about the long-term health of the nation’s finances by means-testing or abolishing these unaffordable benefits.”
Speaking in Hastings, Mr Cameron claimed that Labour’s plan to withdraw winter fuel payments from pensioners paying the 40p rate of tax would save only £75m a year. He said the Government’s decision to raise the age at which people qualify for the state pension would save more than half a trillion pounds.
The Prime Minister added:
“I don’t think we should break the system of having benefits for pensioners for such a small saving when you are giving up such an important principle and such a reassurance to people in our country.”
“Comfort, independence, companionship, health – these aren’t luxuries; they’re what people who have worked and saved all their lives deserve. The fact is, if something happens to you when you’re old, or to your income, you can’t as easily change your circumstances as younger people can.”
Source – The Independent, 24 Feb 2015
A mountain of unpaid council tax is owed to North authorities . . . amounting to a staggering £127million.
Despite many North councils facing severe financial hardship and axing hundreds of jobs, millions of pounds is still outstanding from those who have not paid their tax.
Concerns are growing that with so many people currently facing financial hardship, the current arrears situation will only get worse.
According to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government, homes in Middlesbrough owed among the most on average, taking into account the number of households.
Calls were today made for a distinction to be made between those who are struggling to pay their tax – and those who deliberately avoid it.
Bosses at the region’s Citizen Advice bureaus say one in five people reporting debt problems to their service has a council tax arrears issue.
Figures show that between January and March this year, council tax debt was the number one debt problem the charity in the region helped with.
Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice chief executive, said: “For some households council tax bills can be the tipping point that plunges them into debt.”
Council bosses today said they are chasing the outstanding cash while at the same time offering support to those struggling to pay their bills. A Newcastle City Council spokesman said: “The amount outstanding that is owed to us is currently £12.2m – but these debts are more than a year old and in many cases go back as far as six years, and we have arrangements in place to collect some of this debt. We pursue people who refuse to pay these charges vigorously and only stop when it becomes uneconomical to do so.
“We have a statutory duty to collect council tax and business rates which are spent on vital services such as social care. Our collection rates are currently the highest of any core city and even higher than those of many smaller sized local authorities.
“Those who get into difficulties paying their charges should contact us as soon as possible so we can make alternative arrangements to help them pay and offer them advice.
“We also work very closely with the Citizens Advice Bureau and other voluntary sector organisations so those in genuine difficulties can get the help they need – but informing us of problems at the earliest opportunity is probably the most important thing a person can do and we actively encourage this.”
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Councils need to be clear why they fail to collect so much in council tax, but it’s hardly surprising that some residents struggle to pay after a decade of hikes.
“Town halls need to differentiate between those who simply try to avoid paying and those who can’t afford to when dealing with cases. The latter should be helped with easier ways to pay, like Direct Debit, while the former should be pursued for outstanding bills.”
> Oh great – Direct Debit is not an easier way to pay if you’ve not the money to start with. But I suppose the kind of advice you’d get from a think-tank founded by a group of libertarian Conservatives.
Bosses at North Tyneside Council say their total arrears figure is “constantly shifting”, although as of the end of March this year it stood at £10.7million.
A spokesperson added: “The council’s overall collection rate for council tax, including arrears, is 99.2 per cent. We have prompt and effective collection strategies in place and balance this with support and assistance for those who may have difficulties in making payments.”
Stockton has arrears of more than £5m according to the figures.
David Harrington, Stockton’s cabinet member for corporate management and finance said: “We collected more than 98 per cent of all council tax in 2012/13 and in 2013/14, collected 96.9 per cent, which is still well above similar authorities.”
John Jopling, Gateshead Council service director for Customer and Financial Services said his authority’s charges for the year 2013-14, are still being collected.
He added: “It’s important to note that over the past two years there have been some significant changes to levels of council tax that is due to be paid. In Gateshead the level of support available for those on low incomes has been reduced, with some of the lowest income families now having to make a minimum 8.5 per cent contribution.
“This is as a result of the Government’s abolition of council tax benefit. Additionally, the council has also made changes to the levels of discount available on empty properties and second homes which have reduced exemption periods and charged premiums on long term empties.
“The effect of these changes is an increase in the amount of council tax due to be collected, which has increased by £4.3m or 5.5 per cent.”
A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “We do all we can to maximise council tax collection rates, though recovery can take time and in some cases we are not able to recover the council tax debt in the financial year in which it is due. We currently collect around 98 per cent of overall debt.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 13 July 2014
Yet another benefits scandal over ‘absurd’ two-week paid holiday for jobseekers
DOLE claimants are getting more than £140 in benefits while they take two-week holidays
Critics say it is “absurd” that jobseekers should get a paid break while they look for work.
All 1.2 million people on Jobseeker’s Allowance are allowed a fortnight’s break from looking for work without losing their handouts. The only conditions are that they stay in the UK and must cut short their trips if they are called to interviews or offered work.
> Allowed BY LAW, note. Nobody is breaking any law. Although that said, I’ve never taken it, nor has anyone I know. The main reason being that its another of those rights that the Jobcentre forget to tell you about.
Of course, thanks to the Express, now everyone knows about it !
If all current claimants took their fortnight’s holiday it would cost the public £165million.
> How ? They’d still be receiving exactly the same money as if they hadn’t gone on “holiday”.
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “It’s deeply worrying that our welfare system assumes people will be stuck on benefits so long that they need a holiday.
“If you’re not looking for a job you shouldn’t get Jobseeker’s Allowance.
“Giving claimants paid holiday is absurd as their time should be devoted to gaining employment that could pay for a break.”
> And here come the usual suspects – Tax avoiders Alliance to the fore and in a minute there’ll be some Tory you’ve never heard of trying to win brownie points…
Tory MP Chris Skidmore
> Told you !
said: “Claiming dole can’t be treated the same as having privileges of full-time work with paid holidays.
“As a country we can’t afford for people to take two weeks off from looking for work.”
> Oh for fucks sake ! You do dispair at these idiots… wish they’d been equally vocal when it came to MPs expenses – the real something for nothing culture.
The Government says its new Universal Credit, which rolls together six benefits, will bring an end to the holiday privilege. A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “In Universal Credit, jobseekers will no longer be able to stop looking for work while taking in a holiday.”
> That’s the same Universal Credit which has cost millisons but still doesn’t work ? I read some where recently that the cost is £600 million + (and rising).
Kind of makes If all current claimants took their fortnight’s holiday it would cost the public £165million rather cheap by comparison, doesn’t it ?
Joke – Q. What’s the difference between Universal Credit and an unemployed person ?
A. There’s a good chance that the unemployed person will work one day 🙂
I almost couldn’t bear to look at the comments section following the article – this being the Express – but was actually almost pleasently suprised. Either the hardcore Express readers are on holiday themselves or there’s a guerilla infiltration going on.
One comment I particularly liked –