Ruffley highlights new Policies to help pensioners

Wednesday, 21 July, 2004

David Ruffley MP endorsed new proposals this week by Conservatives to provide a fairer deal for current and future pensioners across the Bury St Edmunds area. At the same time, Mr Ruffley warned that if urgent action was not taken, living standards of pensioners would plummet, companies around Bury St Edmunds could go bankrupt, and council taxes could soar further to pay for local government pension schemes now in deficit.

Mr Ruffley explained:

'I am growing increasingly concerned about the pending crisis in pensions. Workers across Bury St Edmunds are being shut out of final salary pension schemes and fewer people are saving for retirement. Current pensioners are finding it more difficult to get by, with council taxes soaring by far more than their yearly increase in their state pension.'

Under the five-point plan, outlining practical policies to address the pensions crisis:

• The basic state pensions would rise each year by earnings, rather than price inflation.

• Means-testing, bureaucratic and humiliating to many pensioners, would be reduced.

• The obligation for pensioners to buy an annuity would be abolished.

• Company pensions would receive greater support by Government taking on more risk.

• A new, flexible 'Lifetime Savings Account' would be created to encourage people to save.

Mr Ruffley added:

'It is not just the elderly who will suffer from the looming crisis. Latest valuations suggest not a single local government pension scheme in the country now has a surplus. As a result, councils could increasingly be forced to increase council taxes to fund their pensions black hole- in turn, higher local taxes will make the plight of pensioners even worse.

'But I hope Conservative policies show a clear commitment to promoting dignity and security for Britain's present and future pensioners.'