Express & Star

'I'm a pensioner and I'm furious at Tory tax on my earnings'

According to countless opinion polls and surveys, I am in a minority.

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I'm in an age group where people are deemed to drift further to the right as the years progress. Yes, you've guessed it, those of state pensionable age. Dad's Army, the grey generation. Those who did most to carry Brexit over the line.

Those who dream of national service for others, despite most never having been near a parade ground, a training ship or an aircraft in their lives. You know, the ones who moan about the manners of the younger generation, while being some of the rudest people you have the misfortune to meet. Those are my peers. Well, not all of them of course, but a significant number.

The drift to right for me, has always been a head scratcher. While many pensioners are comfortably off home owners with private pensions, many are in poverty, or barely making ends meet. But when it comes to the Conservatives, they behave like turkeys voting for Christmas. Or should I say, in the case of this election, voting for turkeys before Christmas.

The state pension is miserly compared to most of our European neighbours, and many are fearful of how they will cope or afford care as they fall ill.

I should not be in a minority though, should I? After all, the Tories have just promised to look after pensioners with their 'triple lock plus', where pensions rise in line with either average earnings, inflation or by 2.5 per cent –  whichever is the highest.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

In 2021 Prime Minister Sunak, then Chancellor, froze the personal allowance and the higher rate threshold for four years, which was then extended by Jeremy Hunt when he was chancellor until 2028, rather than the default policy of increasing it in line with inflation.

Therefore, under their proposal the personal tax free allowance (the amount you can earn before paying income tax) of £12,570 would increase solely for pensioners to match the annual state pension rise. The trouble is, for me and many like me, it is already too late.

Because at a younger age and for a few years in the dim and distant past, I paid into a Government pension scheme that topped up your state pension. I can't remember how it happened, but 50 years on, am grateful it did. It was the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme, known as SERPS.

This meant an enhanced state pension for me, which has now already gone beyond the personal allowance.

Like all income, pensions, including state pension, are subject to tax. But it feels wrong to me, that such a paltry sum, should be subject to taxation. I have a modest private pension and continue to work out of choice and have no problem with paying tax in these cases.

After all, private pensions are subject to tax breaks, so no unfairness there. But for those whose only income is the state pension, even the thought of being caught up by the taxman is a worry, not to mention the stress of having to fill in a tax self assessment form.

The full new state pension is now £11,502, which equates to £958 per month, having risen by 8.5 per cent in April, following a 10.1 per cent rise the previous year. Significant rises, but still well short of many of our European neighbours. In Luxembourg, the figure is roughly £5,200, in Spain, £2,700 and even Bulgaria, £1,486.

So there will, by 2028, be seven years of a freeze on what has become the most pernicious, dishonest and damaging stealth tax imposed on a nation by a party that boasts about its low taxation record.

While the Tories promise they will protect those pensioners not already affected, (would you believe them?) this insidious threshold freeze is worth billions to the Treasury as inflation does its work for them. Known as fiscal drag, the Office for Budget Responsibility says extra tax revenue from is measure will be worth £42.9 billion over the seven years.

As wages and benefits increase, people are caught in the trap and often forced into higher tax bands.

Having seen Sunak's TV debate accusation to Labour on tax rises, I was torn between, despair, laughter and anger as the claim was shown to be lies, damn lies, and false statistics. This from a party that has caused us to endure the highest tax burden in living memory.

And don't get me started on his D-Day debacle. An outrage that should be a mis-step too far, even to the most loyal of Conservative voters. Will it also be too much for my generation?

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