I’ve been reading a few articles in papers today and it appears that, in addition to reducing the amount paid to sick people (by £30 a week!) from April next year, MPs, who recently received a massive pay increase, also appear to be contemplating charging people for using the health service. (I know that this is an English story, but it will have repercussions here.) I mean, I suppose I wouldn’t mind paying for a visit to the doctor if I could get an 11% boost to my pay, but, of course, for some it will be another case of having to make choices between essentials!
The Financial Times reports that there is a Brexit Black Hole of £100 billion in Hammond’s budget, so I doubt we can expect any relief in the upcoming Autumn Statement. meanwhile, the UK’s debt is heading towards £1.8 trillion at a staggering £5,170 per second.
And pensioners’ triple lock could be under threat in 2020, because they reckon it will be unsustainable, given how poor the country will be and how many pensioners will require pensions. pensioners used to get rises in accordance with pay increases, but in 1980 Mrs Thatcher decided that the pension was a “benefit” like Unemployment Benefit, and decided therefore that pensions should rise in line with inflation. So, over a period of 30 years between then and 2010, pensions lost value, and the British state pension is now one of the lowest in the developed world when compared with the average wage.
To his eternal discredit, and despite lobbying from Barbara Castle, Tony Blair refused to do anything about it, as did Gordon Brown. However, the Liberals in the coalition government introduced the triple lock system, where pensions increased by inflation, wage inflation or 2%, whichever was highest. It remains a mystery to me that the Uk can afford palaces and bombs, but not decency for pensioners. (Yes, don’t judge all Liberal Democrats by the bunch of useless tossers in the Scottish parliament, or the liar in chief, Carmichael. One of two of them may be OK decent people, it seems.)
All in all it does seem to be a depressing country that we live in, and it’s hard to see exactly how Better Together can justify their name…