“Baby boomers should take less from society because they are now ‘absorbing’ too much taxpayers’ money” is an extract from a recent speech by Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London. He also described baby boomers, usually defined as those who were born between 1945 and 1955, as being “the fortunate generation”.
When you first read his statement, it makes no sense because how can one group of people be taking more from society just because they were born between two dates in history? Does someone born on the 1st January1945 take more out of society than a person born on the 31st December 1944 or the 1stJanuary 1956? Of course not, and as Bishop Chartres has implied that we have done rather well because of access to free university education, surely we are more likely to be high income earners and less dependent on the state than other generations?
On reading between the lines, I suspect what the Bishop is really saying is that there are too many of us and we are going to be a burden on the state because of the so called “demographic time bomb”. Since the war successive politicians have played a long game of “pass the parcel” with the present lot finding the demographic bomb in their laps with no one else to pass it to.
It seems that the bishop is being is used by politicians as a “Trojan Horse” to soften up the electorate for yet more attacks on the pension rights of the baby boomers and, of course, subsequent generations. They have already increased the age for women to receive their pensions from age 60 to 65 and for men and women then to age 66.The link between annual increases in the pension with the retail price index has been axed as has the usual practice of increasing age-related tax allowances in line with inflation. These attacks have been introduced with minimal opposition, and there is no reason to suppose that they won’t continue with the age being continually increased and the distinct possibility that pensions will be reduced in cash terms or certain groups will not be eligible at all for pensions.
Already Ed Balls has stated that an incoming Labour Government will introduce a cap on state pensions. What does that mean? I don’t know and I suspect neither does Ed Balls. He is testing the water to gauge the level of opposition (if any). It is very alarming that the party that is supposedly strongly wedded to the rights of ordinary people is even contemplating a cap; this is however not a party political matter, the whole of the political class can see massive savings in reducing pensions from a section of society that is seen as being passive, a “soft touch”.
This assault by government on the state pension could not have come at a worse time for millions of those approaching retirement as they discover that the pay-outs on their pension pots invested in personal pensions are typically only a third of those of ten to fifteen years ago. The take- ups of annuities are at an all-time low as people hang on in the hope that rates improve, but if they wait too long and they die in the meantime, all the pot reverts to the insurance company with spouses and children being left penniless. I don’t know if it is just me that finds this situation to be very worrying as it obviously has consequences for families throughout the country, together with wider society.
It is therefore very disappointing that a leading figure of the Church of England seems to be siding with the government rather than the people on this issue.