Saturday 27 October 2012

Britain is a country where old lords suggest old men earn their pensions by helping even older old men

An article in the 'Daily Mail' this week was entitled :

Lord Bichard says fresh thinking is needed to help meet the cost of an ageing population

Michael George Bichard, a 65 year old 'Baron' who doesn't belong to a political party and sits on the cross benches in the House of Lords, was the former 'Permanent  Secretary at the Department for Education and Employmen', who retired from the Civil Service at 53 with a taxpayer-funded pension estimated to be £120,000 a year.

.* pledged to investigate the idea further as part of his work for the 'Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change'.

Not unsurprisingly, the good Baron's suggestions have prompted a chorus of protest from :

Dot Gibson, General Secretary of the 'National Pensioners Convention', who 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', who made a 'bit of a point' when she 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, also had 'a bit of a point' when she 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."

Lord Bichard, however, had an ally on the Committee in shape of the redoubtedble Professor Sefton of Imperial College, London and former adviser to the Treasury (right), who told it that he : could not understand why young people were not taking to the streets in protest, because they were subsidising the older generation and "I think they should be angry and I think the deal they are getting is poor. There are a lot of transfers going on in the system that are from the young towards the old. The awareness of it is very poor but it will come out.”

Britain is a country where old men can sleep easy in their beds, knowing that it still is partly governed by lords like Baron Bichard and other 'unelected' old men with great wisdom, who are empowered to make laws in their best interests.


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