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The scandal of pensioner poverty

A significant achievement of the last Labour government was a reduction in pensioner poverty.

In 1996/97, 42% of single female pensioners were in poverty while the high point for single male pensioner poverty was 34% in 1997/98.  By 2009 these had fallen to 18% and 14% respectively.

Since 2010, single pensioner poverty has seen once again a systematic rise to 24% for females and 20% for males, and the rise looks set to continue.

Along with rising child poverty, it is a scandal of a decade of austerity.




According to analysis by the Rowntree Trust, a significant cause of rising pensioner poverty is housing costs.  For those in social housing, the poverty rate peaked at 54% in 1996/97, fell to 20% in 2012/13, and has risen back to 31% in 2016/17. For those renting from private landlords, the peak was 46% in 1997/98, and the low point was 27% in 2007/08, before rising back up to 36% in 2016/17.

With so many people set to retire with inadequate pensions, we are likely to see a continuing…

End the righteous indignation on Brexit.

Given the country is equally divided, and parliament is supposed to be a representative body, then it is no surprise that parliament also is divided on Brexit.

We are told that this is an issue that is above party. Indeed it is, and that is why each of the major political parties is also divided on the issues. 

Yet, party leaders are denounced for not being 'decisive'.

What kind of Brexit?

The country is still in the dark about the effects Brexit will have on the economy, and voters appear deaf to the pleas from those sectors most affected.   It is as if it doesn't matter.

The decision to leave has been taken with little or no heed of the consequences.   The people have spoken, and it is expected that those with concerns should 'shut up' and accept the 'democratic will' of the people.  This has stifled discussion, and it has created confusion and frustration and has led to the current shambles in parliament. 

We are told it would be wrong to question the judgment of voters.  It is used as a trump card to stifle real debate and genuine consideration of the consequences. 

Yet, if we are to get a sensible Brexit, we need to take care of the issues.  

One truth we now know.    'Brexit' can mean a number of outcomes with different impacts on the economy and on politics.   This is what the argument is about.  Hard or soft doesn't really express this.  The use of terms like Hard or Soft gives the impression that those wanting the 'softer' outcome are somehow reneging on the referendum vote.  

Those who want a hard Brexit believe that a soft Brexit isn't  'real' Brexit because it doesn't bring back control to the UK.  Remaining in the single market would mean we would have to adhere to rules made by the EU.  But that need not be the case for the central issue of 'control' - the one that most concerned voters - the free movement of people.

Brexit not an ideal

Voters expect our representatives to get the best deal with our European partners.  That will require compromise and pragmatism.  The outcome will not be ideal because Brexit is not some ideal heaven on earth.  Our economy has been aligned to the single market for decades and has benefited substantially from it. 

The promised land, if there is one, will take a long time to build after Brexit.  It will depend on the kind of deals we can do with the rest of the world for trade, but critically the kind of deal we can do with our big trading partner across the channel.   It will depend on what kind of deal we do with the single market.  

Yet, far from pragmatism, each side has elevated the issues with 'red lines' - No to this, No to that.  By doing so, they rule out the very compromises necessary to move forward for the best outcome.  This is not a time for the charge of the light brigade.

For Parliament and British people   

If your leaders say that the 'will of the people' is paramount, then why not test that will?  Work for the best possible deal, and then put it to Parliament and the British people.   For only then will we be sure that it is what people want. 

For all this is to be possible,  Members of Parliament should be given the freedom to debate and vote free of party whips.   The public should be properly informed of the potential consequences of any deal.   The current shambles is not the way to get the best outcome.  Righteous indignation is getting us nowhere.

Author: Ray Noble





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