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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…

No Brexit Sense

I really don't understand why we didn't approach Brexit sensibly. There was a mad rush to invoke article 50 and set the process in motion. It was a signal to voters that the result of the referendum would be 'honoured', and with a lot of macho grandstanding. But no planning for Brexit had been made. The voters gave an answer that wasn't anticipated.



Complex trade deals take ten or more years in the making. They are also politically entangled. Brexit is a more complex trade deal because it involves disentangling our institutional arrangements, not just trade but our politics. So much of our security depends on cooperation with European institutions we helped establish, and many of these collaborations we would wish to continue.

This is why treating the EU as an 'enemy' in the negotiations has been so foolish. They are our partners. 

We should have considered that any transition would be politically difficult. Instead of making the transition 'as short as possible' we needed a long transition to protect businesses and jobs. A customs union and alignment with the single market would have been a sensible approach.

Of course, it would mean we would continue to accept regulations made in Brussels, but as a transitional arrangement, it would have solved the problem of the border in Northern Ireland and allowed us to negotiate our future trading relationship with the EU. 

It would also have given time for reflection, for debate and time to heal divisions.  Instead, the Leave and Remain camps have entrenched in all-out war - it is now no-deal or remains.  This has divided the country and runs the risk of blindly jumping ill-prepared from the cliff edge. 

Now we face leaving with no-deal. No arrangements for the future. You cannot unravel 40 years of political and economic cooperation in three years. Those politicians who say otherwise are not being honest with us.

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