NPF Report reviews – Work, Pensions and Equality

Serious discussions of Social Security policy start from a few fundamental questions. One is the balance between contributions and means-testing as a basis for entitlement, another the balance between vertical redistribution, from richer to poorer, and horizontal redistribution, between different stages in the life cycle. A third is the relationship between the social security welfare state, operated through cash payments, and the parallel welfare state based on tax allowances.

Readers will search this National Policy Forum (NPF) report in vain for references to any of these. Contributions are not mentioned. Universal credit seems to be accepted in principle, suggesting general endorsement of means-testing, but this is an inference. The idea that tax allowances have a similar function to benefits seems unknown to the authors. An earlier consultation document pointed out that the dichotomy between ‘strivers’ and ‘skivers’ was false, implying a recognition that ‘workers’ and ‘claimants’ are not fixed groups. Most people are members of both groups at different points in their lives, and many at the same time. The final report could have built on this insight, but in fact drops it completely. Continue reading

No houses, no lunches, no foreigners: Theresa May launches her vision for Britain

Only death and taxes

Theresa May’s shock announcement has been that her next government would make more people pay for their own social care at home. Under new means-testing rules, pensioners would start to pay for care at home as long as they had assets of more than £100,000, rather than the current £23,500, but the new calculation will include pensioners’ homes. This means that thousands more elderly people would be affected and have to pay for their own care. The policy would work by allowing people to run up the costs and pay for it out of their estate when they die. A “death tax”, as opponents have already labelled it. Continue reading

What’s in the NPF draft policy statements?

According to the Labour Party Rulebook:

“Party conference shall decide from time to time what specific proposals of legislative, financial or administrative reform shall be included in the Party programme. This shall be based on the rolling programme of work of the National Policy Forum.” (Emphasis added)

The results of that “rolling programme of work” emerge at this time of the year giving members a few weeks to read and discuss them and to get their party branches and CLP to respond. It’s a tight timetable and there is room to doubt the value of the consultation that this purports to be. Continue reading

Workers of the world unite to save your pensions!

pensions protectionWorkers pensions across the world are facing similar challenges and we need to learn and act together.

I was at the 2015 Workers Capital Conference yesterday, meeting with union pension negotiators and trustees from across the world. There is great best practice that we need to learn from, but also recognise that funds are invested internationally. We are investing in each other’s communities and economies. Pension funds own half of the assets in the world and we should act collectively. Continue reading

Osborne’s budget giveaway for pensioners: never have so many lambs been so ripe for fleecing

848429_sWe are now being presented with yet another almost unbelievable example of how ruthless the Tories are prepared to be in their own interest at the expense of the gullible and vulnerable. Already last year Osborne ruled that 320,000 savers a year with ‘defined contribution’ pensions would no longer have to buy an annuity – they could take the cash in their pension pot and run with it wherever they liked, whether buying a car, taking a world cruise, tapping into the buy-to-let market, or whatever feelgood bonanza took their fancy, and whatever the long-term consequences of running out of money. All for Osborne to cash in on the pensioners’ vote.

Now he’s proposing to go much further in today’s budget giveaway. He’s now intending that any of the existing 6 million pensioners who missed out on last year’s offer because they were already locked into annuity contracts should now have the opportunity to escape these agreements. The rush for the exit has already started, even though taking out and spending capital reserved for lifetime income could well disqualify such a person from free social care later. Continue reading