Cost of Living

Part of Opposition Day — [15th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:17 pm on 24th June 2008.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper The Chief Secretary to the Treasury 4:17 pm, 24th June 2008

As the hon. Gentleman will be aware if he has talked to pensioners in his constituency, we have increased the pension credit, as a result of which some pensioners are £2,000 a year better off than they would have been in 1997. We have also introduced the winter fuel payment, which will be increased this year by £50 for the over-60s and by £100 for the over-80s, particularly because we know that pensioners will be facing winter fuel bill pressures as a result of rising oil prices. We have increased the pensioner tax allowance this year as well. We have, therefore, already done a lot to support pensioners. [Interruption.] My party colleagues on the Back Benches are reminding me of other measures, such as concessionary fares, free bus passes and the Warm Front programme to help pensioners insulate their houses. [Interruption.] Yes, TV licences, too, and free eye tests. This Government have introduced a whole series of measures that the Conservative party did not introduce in order to help support pensioners. We want to continue to support pensioners, because we recognise that pensioners on fixed incomes face the greatest pressures.

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J H Hall
Posted on 25 Jun 2008 12:28 pm (Report this annotation)

As a pensioner in Douglas Carswell's constituency, I find the assumption and tone of Yvette Cooper's regrettable. Mr Carswell has talked to pensioners and while she is right in some aspects of her reply, the increased tax allowance does not compensate me for the massive increase in my tax HM Treasury arranged when they removed the married-persons' allowance.
The so-called free bus passes are funded from increases in the community charge I have to pay.
I don't get a free TV licence:not old enough yet.
The £50 increase in winter fuel payment will nowhere near meet the rise in the costs of gas and electricity this winter.
So the only gain I have had against the massive rise in costs from my fixed income is a free sight test.
Incidentally, Ms Cooper's extravagant salary, pension arrangements, expense allowances, ministerial perks and fixed and massive redundancy payment, leaves this pensioner questioning her ability to remotely understand the pensioners' viewpoint.

Wendy Weaver
Posted on 25 Jun 2008 5:04 pm (Report this annotation)

As a Pensioner I make the same comment as Mr J H Hall: I cannot make use of my bus pass as the bus stop is too far away from my home so I am paying via my community charge for something I cannot use. I am not old enough for a free TV licence and £50 will no where near go towards the increased cost of gas and electricity. I do get a free sight test every two years.

I find most of Yvette Cooper's remarks an insult to my intelligence. For example, whenever the price of road fuel goes up at source at the pumps the Government get their rake off as a VAT percentage and yet they still plan an increase in October. The Members on either side of the House do not seem to challenge/notice this - a bit like the change of Income Tax rate in the 2007 Budget. Do they not understand these basic principals?

I read that approximately 2,000 UK Pensioners die in each cold snap, either of cold or hunger or both - is this something to be proud of?