Pensioners deserve more respect

SO pensioners will find their council tax bills halved if the Conservatives come to power.Why? Is it because pensioners don't have enough money to pay council tax bills?Or is it because pensioners are the age group most likely to vote in the general election?Frankly the myth of the poor pensioner is, in many cases, just that.

SO pensioners will find their council tax bills halved if the Conservatives come to power.

Why?

Is it because pensioners don't have enough money to pay council tax bills?

Or is it because pensioners are the age group most likely to vote in the general election?

Frankly the myth of the poor pensioner is, in many cases, just that. A myth.

I'm all in favour of giving poor people relief on their council tax bills - but I can't see why this should be dependent on how old they are.

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Why shouldn't a poor working family relying on income support (or whatever the benefit is called this week) get their council tax bill halved?

And why should the rest of us have to pay half the council tax bill of the retired headteacher or civil servant who has a nice index-linked pension and spends half the year cruising in the Caribbean?

Do you want to help Lady Thatcher pay her council tax bill?

Frankly this latest initiative is patronising to pensioners and an insult to the rest of us.

It's about time all political parties stopped treating pensioners as objects of sympathy and ensure that they all get a reasonable sum to live on.

Right now, the situation seems to be that the government wants to ensure the elderly get as little as possible in basic income but then get cheap bus fares, winter fuel allowance, cheap television licences, etc. etc.

Why hasn't any government taken the radical step of ensuring that pensioners get enough money to ensure they don't need all these extra little handouts?

Frankly both main parties have treated many elderly people dreadfully over the last 20 years.

It was Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government in the 1984s that scrapped the link between average earnings and pensions.

So it's a bit rich for the Tories now to portray themselves as the pensioners' friend - and hint that they might restore the link.

I don't think any pensioners will be daft enough to fall for that election promise!

Labour's been no better. When the Tories abolished the link they jumped up and down saying how disgraceful it was.

But come 1997 it was far too expensive for Gordon Brown's mate prudence to restore the link. They were offered £200 towards their heating bills instead!

Rather than all these specific little bits of money here and there, why doesn't the government take the radical step of increasing the basic pension by £1,000 for those who need it?

Is it because they don't trust the elderly? Do they think if they just give them more money they'll rush out and spend it on Sanatogen wine and trips to the local bingo hall?

More than anything else, it's about time that politicians stopped treating elderly people - and their finances - as a single group to be pitied.

They are not all poor. They do not all need silly little bits of financial assistance.

But those who do rely on the state in their old age deserve a much better deal all round than they currently get!

THIS year's council tax rises in Suffolk have provoked a fair degree of cynicism - a low tax rise just before an election. What a shock!

What I find extremely strange is that politicians try this trick almost every time there's an election in the air - and that the electorate seem to fall for it.

This time around I'm not sure that the voters in Suffolk will be so gullible. I'm still hearing mutterings about the 18.5 per cent council tax rise in 2003.

But politicians from the ruling Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition do seem convinced that the memories of most voters are very short.

I'm not so sure - they could be in for a rude awakening in early May.

I'LL be interested to see the reaction of the opposition Labour Party in Ipswich to the proposal to close the town's film theatre and take over a screen at the Odeon Cinema.

It's just the kind of proposal you'd expect a Labour opposition to jump up and down about.

But that won't be easy in this case - because it's exactly what they were proposing to do before losing power last September.

Who says political parties never steal each others' policies?

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