Now that the Easter period has come and gone, and the bump of our return to post bank holiday normality has faded, I thought now would be a good time to reflect upon a recent week of craziness.
No doubt you will remember the “pasty tax” and our glorious political leaders all running off to the nearest Greggs to show how in touch they all are with us mere pasty-eating mortals.
You may also remember the Government-induced fuel non-crisis as significant numbers quickly filled their car tanks in a zombie-film panic rush before the motoring Armageddon that never was took place.
But I hope you also remember the “Cash for Cameron” and “Granny Tax” scandals too for these are the significantly important ones (and dare I say the ones that were being intently shadowed by the less important “pasty tax” and fuel crisis…). But if you have forgotten I will reconsider them today – a readers’ treat that you might consider a budget-based gift from me to you.
However, while the “Cash for Cameron” scandal reflects the continued risk of corruption in our politics (and an area I will no doubt come back to at another time) the “Granny Tax” has a direct affect on many pensioners across Bristol. I will therefore focus on that element in this column today.
The “Granny Tax” scandal was associated with the tax changes in George Osborne’s latest Budget – the one heralded with being for the working man while reducing the 50p tax rate for the richest 1% of people in our country.
In it Mr Osborne (who is a big fan of the Cornish pasty, by the way) imposed the biggest tax-raising change of the budget on pensioners. He did this by excluding them from increases in the personal allowance of tax-free earnings, this being the level of money you’re allowed to receive before income tax is applied.
With more than 55,000 people aged over 65 across Bristol, these changes will be directly felt by many in our communities. Perhaps I’m being old fashioned, but I have always been someone who respects my elders for their wisdom and thinks that, in retirement, pensioners deserve recognition for their contribution to our country over their preceding 64 years by being supported in appropriate ways. This attack on pensioners is clearly against that approach.
One should give credit where credit is due, however, as the change will have no affect on the 50% of pensioners in the country who are on basic state pension and/or pension tax credits. But, in line with the rest of this Budget, it will also not affect the top 10% of the wealthiest of our country’s pensioners either.
This is yet again another example of the “squeezed middle” – the 40% or more of people in our country who appear to be paying the most for this Government’s austerity cuts. What’s more, while the pension tax changes provide a neutral change to our poorest pensioners it also doesn’t do anything else to help them, when one considers it against the rising costs of food and fuel, inflation and the continued VAT hike (a tax that inherently impacts the poorest communities anyway due to the lower levels of disposable income).
All in all, this tax saving of £360m in 2013-14 is being imposed on the people who have worked hard and contributed to our society in order to pay for tax cuts for the richest 1%.
It is disrespectful and distasteful.
As a new columnist for Bristol24-7 I’d love to hear from you, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with my opinions on the subject, and would also love to hear from people or organisations working hard to make a difference to Bristol. You never know, I may pop along and say hello and end up writing about you in my next column!