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Category Archives: Income
In this guest blog post, Sally Brett, Senior Policy Officer (Equality and Employment Rights) at the TUC, examines the inequality of survivor pensions.
Margaret (not her real name) has been married for over 30 years. She worked part-time for many years but this work was low paid, and only during teaching terms, so she never built up her record of NI contributions.
During periods of unemployment Margaret did not claim benefits (and therefore credits which would have counted towards her NI record) because her husband was working. Margaret gave up work to look after her husband when he became chronically ill to help him remain working for as long as possible.
They felt they could manage without claiming carer’s benefits (which again would have protected her NI record), but when he did eventually have to give up work as his condition worsened they made sure that he claimed incapacity benefit, purely so that his NI contributions—and therefore, they thought, Margaret’s pension—would be protected.
Margaret’s husband will reach pension age under the present system, with a full contribution record, which they were always promised would also cover Margaret. However at 59 Margaret finds that the pension she had relied upon will no longer exist.
In a surprise announcement at the start of 2014 David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that maintaining the ‘triple lock’ for the basic state pension will be a key part of the Conservative’s next election manifesto. This would mean that, at least until 2020, the basic state pension would be increased annually by the rise in prices, earnings or 2.5 per cent – whichever is higher. In response the Labour leader Ed Miliband has also said he is committed to the triple lock.
Reaction has been variable. Some newspapers immediately suggested this would affect other benefits such as the winter fuel payment – the Daily Mail’s headline was ‘Turmoil over OAP benefits’. The Independent welcomed the announcement but said it does not go far enough pointing out that the basic pension is still only £110 a week.
Alternatively, others have focussed on what this means for younger people with the Intergenerational Foundation stating the move is unaffordable and ‘betrays’ the younger generation. Continue reading