Pensions with Dignity
While change is not without its own difficulties the introduction of a standard pension rate and a common retirement age will help to inject fairness into the system while at the same time make sure that our children and our grandchildren do not face an impossible burden as they seek to provide, as the working people of today and tomorrow, for those who need security in retirement now and, as the population ages, in the years that lie ahead.
In tandem with pension provision we also, faced with an ageing population, have to address the provision of social care. It is clearly wrong that elderly people are held in hospital for days or weeks because the `step down` and convalescent facilities that they require are no available. The Government is pledged to spend many more millions to address this issue and it is a matter of urgency that the right and adequate proportions of the homecare that allows people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible and the sheltered housing, residential and nursing care that may ultimately be needed for all of us is stimulated. We face, today, a problem that was predicted about twenty years ago and that successive administrations of all political persuasions have failed to address.
I have always said that I believe in pensions with dignity that will give, to those who have worked all their lives and deserve security in retirement, real spending choice rather than means-tested "benefits" in the form of "free" concessions. People must be enabled to retain, and to hand on to their families, more of what they have worked for and, as a consequence, the State must seek to take less.
If people are to be offered dignity in retirement then they must have, as of right, sufficient in hard cash to allow them to not only pay for food, clothing and housing but to be able to exercise choices of leisure, transport and lifestyle.
Those who have spent their working lives contributing to society deserve respect and financial security, not charity.