OAPs told: Work or lose pension
RETIRED Britons could be forced to do community work or lose some state pension if a peer gets his way.
The proposal by Lord Bichard, who has a £120,000-a-year public sector pension, has provoked fury and outrage.
The elderly should earn their pensions by doing voluntary work in their communities to avoid being a ‘burden on the state’, a retired mandarin has suggested.
Lord Bichard, formerly head of the Benefits Agency, made the controversial suggestion at a House of Lords discussion on how to meet the costs of Britain’s ageing population.
Last night his plans were branded ‘National Service for the over-60s’ by angry pensioner groups.
The cross-bench peer, a former permanent secretary at the Department for Education, retired from the civil service at just 53.
His taxpayer-funded pension is estimated to be £120,000 a year.
Lord Bichard, 65, drew a parallel between the workshy claiming unemployment benefits and retirees drawing their pensions.
He said: ‘We are now prepared to say to people who are not looking for work, if you don’t look for work you don’t get benefits.
So if you are old and you are not contributing in some way or another, maybe there is some penalty attached to that.’
He called for ‘imaginative’ ideas such as making old people care for the very old.
Lord Bichard added: ‘Are we using all of the incentives at our disposal to encourage older people not just to be a negative burden on the state but actually be a positive part of society?
‘It is quite possible, for example, to envisage a world where civil society is making a greater contribution to the care of the very old, and older people who are not very old could be making a useful contribution to civil society in that respect, if they were given some incentive or some recognition for doing so.’
He later pledged to investigate the idea further as part of his work for the Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change.
Lord Bichard, who led the inquiry into the Soham murders, said it would be difficult for politicians to sell to the public, but added: ‘So was tuition fees.’
Pensioner groups reacted with fury at the suggestion that the elderly should have to ‘earn’ their pension after a lifetime of working and contributing taxes.
Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, said: ‘This amounts to little more than National Service for the over-60s and is absolutely outrageous.
‘Those who have paid their national insurance contributions for 30 or more years are entitled to receive their state pension and there should be no attempt to put further barriers in their way.
‘We already have one of the lowest state pensions in Europe and one in five older people in Britain live below the poverty line.
‘Lord Bichard’s comments are also extremely divisive – trying to pitch younger people against older people – when the truth is that the real division in our society is between rich and poor.
Frankly, Lord Bichard needs to think twice before making such silly and ill-informed remarks.’
Michelle Mitchell, director general of the charity Age UK, said: ‘Older people are a hugely positive part of society.
‘Over a third of people aged between 65 and 74 volunteer, a percentage that only drops slightly for the over-75s.
In addition, nearly a million older people provide unpaid care to family or friends, saving the state millions of pounds.’
Dr Ros Altmann, director general of Saga, added: ‘This is a very strange idea indeed.
‘Those who have retired have already made huge contributions to our society and are already the largest group of charity and community volunteers.
‘Lord Bichard’s suggestion smacks of social engineering of a dangerous kind. He seems to be suggesting that if you decide to stop working, even once you reach the age that society determines it is reasonable to stop, civil servants should assess you and decide whether you are fit to be assigned to do work that they decide you should do.’
Professor James Sefton, of Imperial College, London, a former adviser to the Treasury, appeared to back Lord Bichard.
He told the committee he could not understand why young people were not taking to the streets in protest, because they were subsidising the older generation.
He told peers: ‘I think they should be angry.
‘I think the deal they are getting is poor.’
Lord Sefton, who is also an analyst at the Swiss-owned UBS bank, said research he was carrying out at Imperial College, suggested that ‘the current generation are very heavy contributors to the public purse, whereas previous generations have benefited from the public purse’.
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Source : https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/354264/OAPs-told-Work-or-lose-pension
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2222383/Retired-people-pension-docked-refuse-community-work-says-mandarin-retired-Whitehall-aged-54.html