Socialist Party
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1 May 2013

IDS' 'wealthy pensioners' smoke screen

Reasons for a 24-hour general strike

Terry Pearce, Thames Valley National Pensioners Convention (personal capacity)

The proposal by Tory Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith (IDS), that "wealthier pensioners" should pay back universal benefits such as free TV licences, winter fuel allowances and free bus passes, is merely a cover to launch a full blooded attack on pensions and benefits after the next general election. It is also an attempt to drive a wedge between pensioners and young people.

There are only 250,000 pensioners in the higher tax bracket. If the government wants to make these contribute more, it could raise income tax on the rich.

A pensioner told me recently that she paid 66.67 tax from a monthly pension of 526.27, while many high earners have just received a tax cut. In reality there are six million pensioners who are so poor that they pay no tax. Many are living in poverty.

Young and old, unite

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) reckons that every year pensioners contribute 40 billion to society in the form of taxes, voluntary work and unpaid care. In fact, without the work of pensioners, many areas of the voluntary sector would collapse.

We must not allow the Coalition to divide pensioners and young people. In October 2012 the NPC launched Generations United - an initiative to unite the generations to defend public services and the welfare state.

Pensioners make up eleven million voters. The Tories are wary of taking us on. If the Coalition is not stopped they will rip away the gains won over years of struggle by many workers who are now pensioners. Today's youth will be tomorrow's pensioners.

We cannot depend on the Labour opposition to defend the rights of pensioners or youth - Labour wants to review pensioners' benefits after the general election too. Pensioners are up for a fight to defend their bus passes, winter fuel allowances and to win decent pensions.

Let's tell IDS what he can do with his miserable attempt to heap the blame for the crisis on ordinary people - us pensioners will stand alongside all those in struggle, young and old, unite and fight.