Let's strut! Pensioners Staying Alive with a bus pass
You know what we want to do? We who are getting on a bit? We want to strut. We need the surge of excitement that shoots through your veins putting a smile on your face because you're out there, staying alive.
OK, so some pensioners strut better than others. The ones who haven't done their knees or hips in, that is. So we have a wrinkle or two or three. So the joints are a bit stiffer, the breath a bit shorter. But you're never too old to want to strut. All the way to the bus stop. But we need our bus passes or we can go nowhere.
We are now in receipt of the scandalous revelation that successive governments have Robert Maxwelled the National Insurance state pension fund. The government's uk.gov website explains the use and purpose of National Insurance:
We are told that the NI surplus (predicted by the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt to be £38 billion at the end of March 2012) is being hijacked by the government to pay off its debts interest free!! How dare they?
The Mature Times writes:
"It is quite clear that millions of pensioners, workers and their employers have no idea that the money being paid in National Insurance every month is not being used to pay higher pensions and benefits – but is instead being used to balance the government’s books. As a direct result, the state pension is being kept unacceptably low and millions of older people are facing financial difficulties."
Don't stop bus passes from being a universal benefit. Don't complicate things by means testing, by setting up a costly, chaotic administrative process that channels money away from the bus passes themselves with no guaranteed savings. The system is self-regulating. Nick Clegg has claimed that tax payers shouldn't be paying for travel passes for the "well off" pensioners. I point out once again that pensioners are tax payers who pay tax at the same rate as everyone else whether they work or not. The richer the pensioner the more tax they pay and have paid. And pensioners save the government billions of pounds in the care they give to their families and to each other. Getting a bus pass is not automatic. It has to be applied for and many better off pensioners never apply. Then there are the many pensioners who don't use a pass because their mobility prevents them ever travelling on public transport. So although all pensioners are eligible to claim a bus pass, a large number do not. And if a better-off pensioner, who is in any case in a minority, decides to apply, then why not? They pay their high rate of tax, always have, and are entitled to a pass.
Only those who are getting on a bit will remember the tough US western TV series "Have Gun - Will Travel" that seemed to run and rerun for ever at the end of the '50s and into the '60s. I only stayed up to watch when my parents were too absorbed in something else to notice I was there, but I remember the title would trip off many an adult tongue in the best cowboy accent they could muster when they were about to travel just about anywhere, to great amusement. Today, for those of us for whom the joke still echoes in our ears, our gun is the travel pass. It enables us to fight against those baddies in black: the loneliness, aloneness, isolation, disengagement, depression, all a result of being holed up at home day after day. Don't cut pensioners off from the world. There is an intended use for NI. We paid in in good faith. We woz conned. Put things right Political Big Brother, or face the vote!
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