State pension payment to rise and SERPs to be sacrificed?

Posted on: 26 October 2010 by Gareth Hargreaves

Last week we had the pain and this week, some of us, at least, are likely to get the gain – though you’ll have to wait until 2012!

I am not sure how the news was broken but it would appear that the coalition government (and I sense the hand of Nick Clegg in this one!) is going to radically reform our state pension. At present single people get a state pension of a little over £95, unless they have any SERPs additional pension (State Earnings Related Pension). Currently if that’s not enough and you have no other income, you can apply for ‘means’ tested’ additional benefits.

It now appears that Cameron and Clegg are going to change all this by having a flat state pension payment of £140 per week. This will do away with the bureaucracy of means testing and save pots of money into the bargain. However, it is suggested that the SERPs pension will help to pay for it. I have paid SERPs payments for longer than I care to remember and in the end, it added up to diddlysquat, so I will not have any problem foregoing it.

This is imaginative thinking and will aid our ailing state pension system, while also stripping out the ignominy of means testing. Well done,  Messrs Cameron and Clegg; a feather in your caps!

Successive governments have talked about doing something for ‘the old folks’ but either didn’t have the money, the time or just simply the determination to identify the real problems.
If this reform is implemented, then along with the winter fuel payments, free TV license fees and the Freedom Pass, things are beginning to look up for those of pensionable age.

Question: When is your home not your castle?
Answer: When squatters get in and take it away from you!

Recently, a chap in London moved out of his house to have some repairs and decorations carried out. On his return, he found the locks changed and a gang of squatter youths. Apparently no force had been used to gain entry, which prevents the police from compelling them to leave. To rub salt into the wound, all his possessions are still in the house and there’s nothing he can do except go through the civil courts to win back his home! Now this just can’t be right, can it?

A few years ago, my house was left empty, awaiting planning permission, so we could do a major conversion. One weekend, a group of Spanish teenagers took possession and locked us out. Knowing a bit about the law and what you could and couldn’t do, I went around to reason with the group. The inside of the house was wrecked, which didn’t really matter as it was going to have a major rebuild, the electricity and gas had been ‘jumped’ and the place was a tip!

I sat and enjoyed a pleasant conversation with them, before casually dropping in that I would be going away for a few months and had promised some friends from Peckham that they could use the house for weight training and kick boxing practice. I left a little pause, while the proverbial peseta dropped, and said it was up to them if they stayed!

As if by an act of god, they left the very next morning! Was I right or wrong? I don’t know and don’t care – it was my house, plain and simple!  However, it is not right that we have to resort to trickery to get back our homes, is it? Over to you Mr Cameron – change these silly laws while you’re having your legal spring clean – and the voters will thank you for it!


PS. Remember the last World Cup? You know, the one where the performances of England were overshadowed by the apparent psychic ability of a German octopus. Well, after a stellar career Paul the psychic octopus shuffled off the mortal coil, prompting calls for a permanent shrine to be errected in his honour. The sage-like cephalopod achieved fame through his uncanny ability to predict the outcome of football matches. RIP Paul.

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