With inflation so low in Britain, the increase in retirement pension will be little more than a pound a week in April. Rises are linked to inflation rates, but because that has been going through the floor, pensions are heading that way too. But is that fair? It seems not. That’s because new figures suggest that the measure of inflation for the whole of UK society is now working against pensioners, and they have suffered a cost increase of £800 in the past year, with a typical ‘basket of goods’ for older people, including food, household bills and insurance, rising by 16 times the inflation rate! The average over 65 spent £11,200 on goods and services last year, compared to £10,400 in 2013, according to an analysis of official figures, which is an eight percent rise in costs. By contrast the average rate of inflation in December was only 0.5 per cent. If pensioners’ costs had risen at the same rate as inflation, they would have seen a price hike of just £50, instead of £800. Most working age people have seen their spending costs plunge due to a significant drop in global oil prices, which has brought down the cost of their daily commute. But because the elderly do not travel as much and have free bus passes, they have not benefited. At the same time, they have been hit by increases in the cost of food, alcohol and tobacco, along with utility bill rises. Pensioners have not benefited as much from the current low mortgage rates because most have paid off their home loans by the time they reach retirement. Some of them are faring well in retirement if they are enjoying inflation-proof protected pensions and have paid into schemes all their working lives.
But there are many – the majority – who are not so lucky and with any savings earning next to nothing in interest, pensioners are having a hard time of it. And any political party thinking it can get away with short-changing pensioners had better watch out – they represent a very large potential vote and can inflict a major blow at the polls.
One of the silliest decisions taken by the UK coalition government was to allow over 55s “pension freedom”. They will be able to opt out of buying an annuity – a guaranteed income for life – with their pension pot and will instead be able to spend it as they wish. OK, most will be prudent enough to invest wisely, perhaps in property or antiques. Others may fritter it away in lavish holidays, a luxury car or simply living beyond their means. The Centre for Policy Studies think-tank believes there could be “ghastly consequences” for those who risk running out of money before they die. Others could be victims of fraudsters. All in all, it looks like it´s going to be a tough time for pensioners, both now and in the future. All must be more prudent and money savvy than ever – and cast their votes for the party which will look after their interests the most.
How´s this for the ultimate in stupidity? It seems that Labour wants to cut university fees from nine to six thousand pounds, and to pay for it, one idea to cut the amount of money you can put into pension schemes tax free. Stupid? You bet it is. It will reduce the amount of money people put into retirement pensions, storing up huge problems in the future. It could also mean that universities have less income and to make up the shortfall they will look abroad for more high-paying students, reducing the UK intake. It´s yet another daft idea from Labour.
Oh dear – the Church did it a fortnight ago sounding off against a medical breakthrough which will prevent babies being born with hereditary diseases, urging MPs not to allow it to go ahead. Now they’re at it again issuing, through their Church of England bishops, a 52-page manifesto of what has been described as left-wing policies three months before the general election. In the document, they have attacked Margaret Thatcher; demanded higher pay for the poor; and called for a debate on the end of Britain´s nuclear deterrent. It backs cooperation with Europe; criticises the immigration debate; praises foreign aid; and says that it is every Christian´s moral duty to vote. The Church’s intervention has been described as naive and takes no account of the measures which were necessary to help Britain out of recession and financial problems created by the previous Labour government. And to even think of turning away from a nuclear deterrent with Russia posing more of a threat to the West every day is ridiculous! The Church is also way off beam when it comes to overseas aid. Britain has poured billions of pounds into India and is still doing so., though that is to end this year, thank goodness. Why? Because India is going ahead with a massive military spending plan, with £10billion going on a fleet of new warships and submarines. The country will bolster its navy by building seven frigates at the cost of £5.2million with a further £5.2million spent on six nuclear-powered submarines. It´s the same with Pakistan – which spends a fortune on its military and has nuclear weapons. Why should Britain be pouring money into countries that are spending a fortune on armaments, or those with appalling human rights records or where there is blatant corruption? When it comes to overseas aid, I am a strong believer in helping other countries through fair trade – buying from them at fair prices, thereby providing more jobs and wore wealth.
Britain has been pouring money into Africa for generations, but the same problems remain, like women producing baby after baby which they cannot afford, feed or raise. Aid should be prioritised to helping women avoid pregnancies rather than trying to cope with an ever increasing population.
The Church´s own admission is that Britain has its own poor which should have a living wage. Very true – and that´s where the priority should be – not trying to solve all the world´s problems.
One thing that all British political parties have at least agreed on is that priority must be given to the problem of global warming. It is now not just a maybe – there is absolutely no doubt that the world is heating up and it´s happening at an alarming rate. OK, if you talk to people in Eastern America right now they probably think anyone who talks about global warming is barmy, and Spain has had a pretty chilly winter, as has the UK. But current global ocean temperature charts speak for themselves. Right across the globe in tropical oceans, sea temperatures are way higher than a 30-year average. And at the poles, there is less ice than normal, and there has been greater land ice melt at the Antarctic during its summer. Rising sea levels, increasing difficulties in producing food for a rising global population, more extreme weather and global catastrophes are the consequences and the longer the world continues to do so little in prevention the worse it will get. It amused me to hear that John Prescott is to be the Labour czar to fight global warming. What hypocrisy…wasn´t he known as two Jags?
Meet Mikel Ruffinelli. Her claim to fame is that her backside is eight foot round! Despite being just 5ft 4″ and tipping the scales at 30st, 39 year old Ruffinelli from Los Angeles, says she is healthy and has a shape that other women envy. “I have an extreme physique,” said the mother-of-four, who has a proportionally small 40-inch waist. “I love my curves, I love my hips, I love my attributes. I love my shape and I see no reason to diet because I don’t have health problems. Men don’t fancy skinny girls, they like an hourglass figure.” Now she is to appear on a new documentary, World’s Biggest Hips, alongside three other women who boast super-sized rear ends. One of these makes her “fortune” doing striptease at stag parties and the like. Well that´s one party I certainly won´t be going to!