"Privileged" pensioners should have benefits cut

Older people should be made to share the burden of the spending cuts, according to a report from the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).

The IEA says the government could save £16 billion a year by cutting pensioner concessions such as free travel, free TV licenses and the winter fuel allowance.

The think tank says older people enjoy a "privileged position" at the moment with their non-means-tested benefits not removed or reduced and the basic-state pension planning to increase above inflation.

It claims they also receive "particularly favourable treatment in the tax system", with higher personal allowances than younger people and even a marriage allowance if one partner is over 75.


But the report has been slammed by pensions expert and director general of Saga, Dr Ros Altmann.

"Quite frankly, I think this report is an outrage," she says.

"It is very easy to suggest saving public money from any group who receives it, but that does not make it right to do so. The idea that pensioners should be punished because we have a budget deficit is not well made. 

"Pensioners are already suffering because the inflation rate has damaged their living standards and anyone on a level annuity is losing purchasing power rapidly."

Read: How rising inflation can destroy your pension

Dr Altmann says falling interest rates and rising inflation have transferred resources from older savers and pensioners to younger borrowers and bankers. 

"The idea that they should lose even more of their wealth in order to bale out the over-borrowing of banks and younger cohorts may suit those who have borrowed and those who work in the financial sector, but that does not make it fair."

Dr Altmann says radical reform of the state pension system is needed.

Do you agree that pensioners are getting an easier ride? Post your comments below and vote in our new poll.

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The majority of the elderly people that I know have been brought up with a strong work ethic and have worked hard (and savedd hard) for their retirement. They have contributed more than their fair share into the 'system' and in their old age should be able to reap the rewards of their efforts.

I totally disagree with the IEA suggestion that the elderly should have their concessions reduced/removed when they are their most vulnerable.

I also disagree with the way the Government is introducing a later age at which we all will receive our State Pensions. Following the rise in pension age for women from 60 to 65 years, I was already one of many who were on a sliding scale and would not receive my pension until I was 64+ and now I find that if Government proposals go through I will not receive my pension until I am 66 years old. I retired early from the teaching profession due to ill health and now it appears I will have to wait another 9 years before I receive my pension, even though I have paid in full into the 'system' for 34 years. With 9 years still to go, and a possible further rise of pension age to 70 years, who knows whether I will still be alive to receive my pension!!! It is a disgrace!

Why should benefits such as free transport be taken away from pensioners. Most pensioners are of the generation that did not claim benefits while working and contributed to the country. We pay taxes on any payments we receive then pay tax again on our savings. A doube whammy if you are trying not to ask the government for extra help and try to live of what you have.

Try living on a basic pension of under £100 a week and see how you fare. I worked out if I could do it some time ago and the answer horrified me.
I am lucky and have a pension in addition to the state pension. I began planning for it in the 1960's because I was well aware of my father's cocnerns! It is not as good as I was led to believe but living quietly I can get by. If I were relying on the state, I would really struggle.
It is very easy to talk of the privileged pensioners but they are not that many in number and the state benfefits are not that much. My own mother refused to have anything to do with things like free TV licences because she could not understand the questionnaire she had to answer. I couldn't either.
Most pensioners are not that well off and many struggle.

Older people have more than paid their dues to society through their working lives. To suggest that they should have there benefits cut is ridiculous. If there is a need to save money then perhaps we should be getting rid of the idiots that came up with this report within the IEA.

Another group of wealthy economic overheads trying to belittle those who have worked all their lives to build the economy which they now enjoy.

An alternative approach would be to remove these (and other don't think tanks) from our economy. Would we miss them? - I think not, and the great British public should realise that somewhere in the great economic equation we are paying for these people to waste their time!

It is time for less commenting and more wealth creating producing.

How about a national campaign to rid ourselves of these useless bodies?

No I do not think pensioners are getting too much,as we pensioners have paid in to it all our working lives,in my case this being 50 years in total
better to cut the allowances to the younger ones who do not work because
they get more for not working.

It is outragious that they should even contemplate reducing any funds that pensioners receive. They don't receive enough! I honestly don't know how they make ends meet. When gas, electric, petrol, VAT and goodness knows what else is increasing in leaps and bounds, are their pensions increasing to match? No. This government (and I voted for it!) is appalling!

Regards Julie

As a pensioner on a basic pension I believe that free travel, free TV lic., winter fuel allowance and the £10 Chritmas bonus, should be stopped for all pensioners who pay tax on their retirement pension and only given to pensioners that do not pay income tax or capital gains tax.
Any couple can earn nearly £19k pa an without paying tax any pensioner below the threshold should be the only ones that get the so called universal benefits.
This would save the country billions per year.
im sure the likes of Maggie Thatcher and Lord sugar would not mis thes benefits. Also All pensioners who live abroad should only get the state benefit and no extras and get proof of their residence in the uk verified by a solicitor.

May I suggest that these pathetic faceless people of the IEA reflect on the sacrifices thousands of the over 80s made in the 1940s[and those who did not see their 19th birthday!]These are the people they have to thank for their way of life.Think about it!!

Well as a new OAP who after working and paying taxes for over 45 years ( as of course most of my generation started work at 15 ).
I am appalled at these suggestions .
1.if the bus passes are taken away you will leave many people isolated in their homes .If they do this they should then take this privilege off the school children who sometimes only travel one stop if they had to pay to travel I am sure they would walk and all the others who get it for free too many types to mention .
2. Winter fuel - well the enormous pension we receive does not ensure we can pay high fuel prices so older people would just have to be cold and get sick and end up in the hospital costing the country more to care for them.
3. The free tv license is for people aged over 70 and probably for some this is their only entertainment .
Well I would not be surprised to read that all over 65 are to be euthanised as of course we are no longer tax payers and have no use whatsover .The fact we have most of us worked all our lives and not asked for the handouts which are now given freely to people not even born in this country makes me ashamed to be British .
Mr Cameron has certainly not kept to his Election promises to date.

One day all the employees of the IEA will be pensioners.

See what they vote then.

R C M Matta



What 'privilieged position' an absolute disgrace it beggars belief!

as a pensioner who does not get a full pension, I have paid all my working life for the pension so deserve it. It is not sufficient to live on so I rely on interest on savings which is low and crippling at the moment. Pensioners are suffering, like the rest of community in this testing time. In most cases pensioners are fairly adept at cutting back as they have lived in hard times previously, so we are doing our bit

I have worked hard and saved hard all my life so that the interest on my savings would give me an income to live off in my final years but I am now being robbed blind as the government lets inflation run wild in order for it to minimise the value of the debt the country is in.

I would gladly give up my bus pass and my winter fuel allowance if only we could have fair interest rates on our savings that kept up with inflation. But no, the savers are having to bail this country out and that mainly means the pensioners with their savings.

Now we are being robbed blind by an interest rate that will not even keep up with inflation and we still have to pay tax on the meagre interest that we receive on our savings.

Many elderly people, like myself, have never had above average earnings, yet never got into debt, unlike the masses of our younger generation who seem to have felt it was fine to spend more than they earn.

Stop blaming the banks for the mess this country is in; I have often had loans offered to me but always said no because if you have a grain of sense, then you will know if you can't afford something today, then what makes you think you can afford to have it now and pay for it tomorrow?

The pensioners didn't get this country into the mess it is in; it was thoughtless and irresponsible borrowing. If the pensioners all were to withdraw their savings together as a protest, then you would really need to worry. Rather than cut the bus passes which permit the olds to ride on otherwise almost empty buses, it would be far better to give travel tax concessions for employees, as that would make it more worthwhile for unemployed people to be prepared to travel and work, who would otherwise be worse off working have paid loads to commute.

Pensioners do not usually over spend and get into debt, if they can not afford something they usually go without, like not heating their home. There is too much money wasted by local and central government departments that should be looked at before cutting the benefits given to pensioners. The one area that should be cut is the high salaries paid to Cheif Executives of local councils etc. who earn more than the Prime Minister.

It's taken me 50 years of paying into the system via income tax and other deductions to reach this "privileged" position. When the members of the IEA reach retirement age lets see if they still hold the same views.
I do not have vast savings and rely on the state pension for my income. I am not
a complaining old "Victor Meldrew" and totally understand the need for cuts so perhaps the elite members of the IEA could look a little closer to home.

are they mad?
they are the only group who have paid the full whack to society,and get a pittance.

there are pensioners who do not get extra benefits because they saved for their old age, if they have over £16k saved they do not get extra benefits, if they are not on any disability or incapacity benefit they do not get extra money, I know, I live on my own, get a basic state pension only. I have rates + all of the other 6 bills to pay out of my income being 75 years of age I find it dispicable that some-one points the finger at oaps give us a break, we were the people who put the country back on it's feet after the 2nd world war. Look at the people who fiddle the system, + the foreigners who have come to this country for an easy ride, =+ all of the layabouts. The young ones have no jobs to go to due to lack of training in the past and foriegn workers taking up jobs. Speak the truth for a change.

If the Government paid a decent pension to the pensioners they wouldn't have to rely on benefits for bus travel etc. Britain receives one of the lowest pensions n Europe.
The Banks have already taken away the interest on savings they need to survive on. With everything going up in price how to they expect pensioners to live if they take things away? They can't get jobs as they are not available with the rise in un-employment.
The bus pass is some pensioners only means of getting about as they can't afford cars.

I am a 70 year old widow. I wonder Dr. Altmann would like to exchange places with me financially. I worked hard all my life, delighted in bringing up up three boys and never complained about having to do without clothes , not going out to restaurants, theatre etc.,(both me and my husband) for many years. Our boys had everything we could afford, we did not get into debt ever. We had all we needed, there is a great difference between need and want. I lost more than half of my meagre savings due to the credit crunch. I believe I deserve my state pension and winter fuel allowance.

instead of cutting any benefits clamp down on tax dodgers including george osborne and many other mps.

What an appalling suggestion! As has been stated, most pensioners have worked hard for most of their lives and have earned their benefits, often making sacrifices for the benefit of the following generations. As such they deserve whatever they get.

The present state pension is not enough to live on. Anyone with income over £140 a week does not qualify for benefits but some pensioners who work and have paid into the state system for for 45 years can get as little as £175 per week from all sources to live on - less than people on state benefits who have never worked - and this is just not enough to pay for rates, rent/mortgage, fuel and food basics. Gordon Brown raided the private pensions of many people who were always low paid and this government would like to get rid of bus passes etc. Members of parliament should be obliged to live for a month on £175 a week and see how they manage.

As far as free bus travel for oap`s, we all contribute to the local economy,
by shopping every day,when a big proportion of younger people are at work.Dont kid yourself, the government, dont give this privelidge out of the goodness of their heart. Take it away and the shopkeepers would suffer,and that would not help employment.

Please read the report of the Institute of Economic Affairs before you comment. Dr Altmann is on our side.

I recently travelled by bus in town, using my bus pass of course! About 15 people of all ages, including a couple of young mums, got on the bus whilst I was aboard. How many of us paid for our fare? None!! So how is it that pensioners are the only privilged class?

as most of you have put what a disgrace to suggest such remarks regarding oap whom have worked all of thier lives. NOT LIKE THE SOCIETY WE LIVE IN NOW SOME OF THEM HAVE NEVER HELD A JOB SINCE LEAVING SCHOOL AND NEVER WILL BECAUSE THEY DONT WANT WORK OUR GENERATION DIDNT SAY WE WERNT WORKING FOR SUCH AND SUCH AN AMMOUNT OF MONEY THERE WAS NOT A CHOICE YOU WORKED AND EARNED WHAT YOU EARNED AND PAVED YOUR WAY LIKED IT OR NOT BUT WE THE NOW OAP' wernt spoilt brats like they are to day they dont know the meaning of hunger as some of us knew and had to stretch a penny into tuppence. and we could call on our neighbours to help out not like the shity world we live in now cant trust a soul. and if anything we need more benefits the poltry ammout we get now ha barley feeds oneselves shame on our government other european countrys the elderly are looked after with such dignity and respect for what they have given to society through thier lives

Anybody who saves hard, works hard, does the right thing is a mug.
Take out all your savings and if the social asks you whether you have any savings then lie and say no.
How are they going to prove otherwise if you have no savings acount.
Then sell your house and rent, when retired you will not have money to afford rent, hide your money and it doesn't matter whether you don't get any interest as the benefits you receive will more than make up for the interest you lose.
And remember you still have all that lovely cash to spend and nobody will any the wiser.
The social will then pay for everything.
Apply for a 1 bed social housing unit and get everything paid for by the social.
Spend money via cash only then untraceable.
Don't use loyalty cards as the information is passed onto HMRC.
The system does not reward thrift; you are a mug if you live life like that.
The system REWARDS irresponsible living; so live it up as the state will have to support you.
You need a pension pot of £100000.00 to get exactly what a single pensioner would get if they had save nothing.
So basically saving for a pension means all you are doing is subsidising the government as you will effectively get the same benefit as you would if you had a small pension aswell.
So don't subsribe to NEST; pull out as it is a complete waste of money.
Live it up and the state will then pay for anything

What a total insult to those who've worked 50 plus years, many for meagre wages, to now be tole that all the benefits of the contributions they made should be cut! Get a grip on all the bone-idle wasters, get them off their idle asses and make them do whatever job is available. If they refuse, stop their money - which after all comes out of the pockets of those who do work and pay taxes - it is not a God-given right ...

I take it that you squandered all your earnings, if worked at all!!!! You seem to be a very bitter person. Some people save for old age and have worked hard to be able to have a bit of comfort. Don't begrudge the pensioners who pay tax on their pension.

When my husband and came to live in Poole, Dorset 15 years ago there was a very good system for bus passes. you could either get a bus pass or you got coins. Both of which you paid something for at a discounted rate but now there is no alternative and everybody gets a bus pass free! The coins could be used for a taxi or train. This seems stupid to me as at least the council was getting some money.

This a very unlikely scenario!
For a pensioner couple to obtain nearly £19000 pa without paying tax, they would each need an income of £9500 pa.
If the wife has not worked all her life and stayed at home to look after children she will get an income that is a fraction of this amount, and if her husband is lucky enough to have any income over £9500 he will pay tax at 20% on it. For most pensioner couples their joint income before being taxed will be considerably less than £19000.

Unbelievable - where we live we are inundated with foreigners all of whom live in council property or other social housing they all drive large cars and can be seen cleaning them on a sunny afternoon( obviously none of them work) and have everything paid for them. If they dont have a car they travel by taxi. They all have loads of kids and are usually expecting another. They spend most of the week either visiting or being visited by friends with cars. If they dont want to drive they can use their FREE BUS PASS at anytime to travel where they want. I have worked all my life and now i live on state pension and a small private pension. If I knew then what i know now i would never have worked a day and then i could be living in comfort with everything paid for me. Does the IEA not realise that everyone comes to this country to live on benefit and not to work. Perhaps we should stop all benifit to anyone but our own people and then we should have enough money to go round.

 Who are these "better off" pensioners, it seems that its someone who does not qualify for the Guaranteed Pension Credit.  Because I worked full time for more than 50yrs my state pension is £151 per week, paying into SERPS and Graduated Pension as well as National Insurance contribution, about £16 more that the guaranteed pension credit limit.  However as from April I have to pay almost £15 per week Council Tax, someone on pension credit pays none.  Unlike someone on the guaranted credit I get no help with dental or optical costs, if my pet needs treatment I have to pay full vets fee's unlike pension credit recipients whose pets are treated free by the PDSA.  I could go on as the list of benefits available to those on the guaranted is generous, eg rent paid if in rented accomodation.  Now some idiot "Think Tank" whose members no doubt do not have to live on less than £8000 per year suggest I should lose the couple of benefits I do receive, my winter heating allowance and bus pass.  If the pass went I'd be more or less confined to the house as bus and train fares where I live are high and are standard regardless of the journey length so I'd be unable to use them more than once or twice  a week at most.