As there appears to be no work left to do here, I’ve been dreaming of selling my little house in Wales and moving somewhere they have pavement cafes where you aren’t thrown out by the proprietress for furtively eating your own sandwich with her ersatz leek coffee. The plan rather depends on being able to purchase the odd comestible, and pay the bills for powering my guitar amp (bugger the phone, I’d never use it…). In other words, I’d need a modest stipend; and it seemed to me that, as I am cardinally approaching retirement age, the obvious source would be HM Government.
Accordingly, the other week, I sent a form off to the Pensions Forecasting Team, rah, to get a forecast for my pension. Back came the reply, that when I ‘retire’ in October 2014, on my 65th birthday, I shall be entitled to a pension of £170 a week, based on 33 years of NI contributions. This came as a shock, because I didn’t think I was 33 years old, let alone that I had actually worked that much or that often…. I was informed, too, much to my delight, that I need never work again, as £170 was the maximum allowable under the present scheme (Note – pensions can go down as well as up…) and I could not increase the amount by working any longer! A blessed release.
Within milliseconds I calculated that, along with my £119 a month annuity from a long-ago paid-up private plan (whose tax-free capital component also paid for my teeth, that I don’t have to immerse smiling in Steradent overnight, they’re permanent, see? I can even eat apples!); perhaps a bit of teaching, and the difference in cost between my tiny terraced cottage on a thunderous main road, with its tuppenny-stamp garden (plus handy 8’x6′ shed), and the three-bedroomed Charentais longhouse with two acres, pool and gite, that I could still buy for a lot less, thanks to the returning Britpats pummelled by austerity and unexpected foreign stuff, I might just be able to survive abroad until carried off by sun, sex and cirrhosis.
Yesterday, all that changed with the announcement by the Fat Controller that a universal pension credit limited to £140 is to be introduced in place of the existing schemes; effectively cutting my weekly entitlement by £30. In other words, I had worked six of those 33 years for nothing. (Probably the last six, I reckon. It was that kind of job.) Not which, but I only needed another £3k income over and above to fall into the Treasury’s gaping maw, as the frozen tax threshold steadily declines over time. Add to that the lousy savings rates and the spiralling cost of Merlot, and I seem doomed to remain in Aberystwyth forevermore (it’s that kind of place, nobody ever gets out.) I had no idea pensioners had to pay tax. Surely, we’ve already paid it?
Osborne’s aim is obviously to force people like myself, approaching retirement, to carry on working until the pensionable age is raised to 67 and beyond, because, ‘Arbeit macht frei’, as they say in the best blogs. But I have no job; there is no work, and it would surely be preferable if there were any work that a younger person should have it because, to be brutally honest, work is not all it’s cracked-up to be by Conservatives who have never tried digging their own gardens.
£30 a week is nothing to the State, with its £1.3 trillion GDP and even bigger debt, but to me it is, ooh, a half-case of barely drinkable discount club wine; 100 cigarettes, not that I smoke but people do; three or four new or used jazz albums from Amazon; the cost of the various protection rackets run by insurance companies; the gas and electric bill; a month’s worth of this internet thingy I’ve heard so much about (it’s almost an anagram of ‘interested’), or the weekly fuel ration for the nine-year-old car I’m having to sell just to get through the next month…. in other words, the silver economy, crashing and burning.
Thanks, George. Enjoy your money. See you down the Jobcentreplus one day, eh?