Predictions and recommendations likely to produce respective frowns and stampy feet were in abundance this week, thanks to the debut from the Government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.
Here are some of the headline-grabbing lowlights from Alan Mildew** et al:
- Two thirds of poor children come from families where at least one grown up works;
- Lots of low and middle income children will probably be worse off than their parentals;
- Wealthier pensioners should have their universal benefits cut - or at least means tested - to share the burden of austerity with everyone else.
While the first two points offer a double hit of depressing information, the last one touches on the apparent third rail of UK politics - taking anything away from anyone residing in the file labelled ‘pensioner’.
As expected, David Caterpillar and Nick Cloggs quickly voiced their concern at the recommendations to whip the bus passes and winter fuel payments from under the noses of ANY pensioner. Even the likes of Paul McCartney, 71, and Prince Charles, who turns 65 next month.
I am loving the fact that the Government have promised to safeguard these universal benefits until the next general election. This is a display of targeted bribery so brazen, it knocks Mum’s dangling of a chocolate yoggie when there’s still peas on my plate, into the most cocked of hats.
Before I begin toddling along my opinion path, let me first say that I come from a long line of people who couldn’t respect their elders more... and I’m proud as Punch to join their ranks. I believe absolutely that the older generation deserve the best when it comes to everything from care and consideration to a decent Saturday line up on BBC1, a smile in the street and a seat on the bus.
However, I do not see the logic in giving every person over a certain age free stuff - winter fuel allowance, TV licence, bus pass etc - regardless of how much is in their piggy bank.
Furthermore (we’ve had word-of-the-day newspaper at home this week) I also believe the assumption all pensioners want to be in receipt of said free stuff is a load of old piffle.
I know they always offer a line up of feisty silver-haired people on the news who passionately talk about how they have worked all their life, paid their national insurance and therefore deserve to be given the universal pensioner goodie bag.
But I personally know - or at least the parentals do - more than a few pensioners fitting the lifelong-worker description who are horrified at the thought of pocketing an extra £250 for central heating while the less well-off working are struggling.
These are also the ones who recognise we are in the middle of a pretty rotten period of future history and are quite prepared to pitch in.
In a perfect world, you’d hope everyone who has no need for state-awarded freebies would simply hand them back.