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Martin Kirby Column, Who's Well Off? Frontline Nursing and Living at the Office

By Moanagram  |  Posted: January 11, 2013

  • Iain Duncan-Smith

  • Major Sarah Price, chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Dr Frank Harsent, Corporal Staff Nurse Marie Hatfield and Captain Sarah Bellwood

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COALITION WON'T BENEFIT FROM ATTACKING PENSIONERS

I think I've finally worked-out what 'we're all in this together' actually means; people who have worked hard and paid into the system all their working lives should lose benefits such as the winter fuel allowance and bus passes, and the money the government saves 'can be targeted at the least well off'.

Before the howls of derision deafen me; yes, I do know there are many people out of work through no fault of their own and despise being on benefit. But it's no use pretending that there are not also people who see state hand-outs as their right and are skilled at milking the system. We've all seen stories of large families being housed in Mayfair mansions and receiving upwards of 40 grand a year in various benefits – and though these may be extreme examples, there should not be any such examples at all.

Hinting that he will, at some stage, means-test pensioner benefits is just a ploy by the Prime Minister to try and repair his crumbling coalition, knowing such a move would appeal to most Lib-Dems. Senior Liberal Democrats have said they will campaign to cut the payments to wealthy pensioners so that around £2billion that would be saved can be targeted at the least well off. Not surprisingly, a recent poll found that the majority of the public back plans to cut the hand-outs for better-off pensioners. Isn't that because the majority of the public are not pensioners?

People of my generation were always advised to 'put something by for a rainy day'. Thanks to immoral bankers and 'Mad Gordon' Brown, it's not so much a rainy day as a downpour that Noah would recognise, but of course, "we're all in this together".

I'd like to know who decides at what point a pensioner is classed as 'better-off'. Lots of elderly people live in houses worth upwards of £200,000 but that doesn't mean they all have wads of cash stuffed down the back of the sofa. Property values have increased much faster than pensions over the years.  Pensioners with just a couple of quid above wherever the line is drawn would be classed as 'better-off', yet they'd be put into real hardship by having to lose these small benefits. 

It's strange that we never hear about MP's 'perks' facing the axe. True, plans are afoot for MPs to lose their gold-plated pensions by 2015 as part of a review of their remuneration by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa). But to soften the blow; their salaries could increase from £65,738 a year to £92,000.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has insisted that the Tories will honour David Cameron's pledge not to touch pensioner's benefits before the General Election. From where I'm looking, he sure as hell won't have to worry about touching them after the election.

LIVING THE HIGH LIFE

I reckon the proposal to convert city centre offices to flats is a cracking idea. A planning application has been made to Gloucester City Council to convert the first, second and third floors above the Cotter's Bar shoe shop in Northgate Street to residential use.

The building has been home to many different companies' offices since the 1970s but with so much business done online these days, many companies see renting an office as an unnecessary expense. Given that the city council wants to bring life back to the city, I don't see how the plan can be refused.

NO TITLES FOR NURSES

On Saturday nights, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital's A&E department can be a battleground, so you have to admire nurses who are willing to work in a real battleground as volunteers. Gloucestershire nurses, Major Sarah Price and Captain Sarah Bellwood, have been in Afghanistan since October after being mobilised by the Territorial Army, missing their family Christmas and New Year. Yet honours go the likes of a bloke who rides a bike faster than other cyclists.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The older I get, the better life used to be!

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  • MistyBuff  |  January 12 2013, 9:06AM

    Hazard a guess at how many families were housed in Mayfair in receipt of extortionate benefits? The way the press bleat on about it you'd think hundreds of claimants were living the high life in luxury surroundings wouldn't you? The answer? One. Yes ONE. It wouldn't blooming surprise me if they'd been dumped there on purpose to give the politicians and press something to flag up as an example of how hard done by the rest of the 'Hard Working British Public' are in comparison to the 'Feckless Scroungers' who are a blight on our society. *Tuts*

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  • Lecorche  |  January 11 2013, 7:23PM

    Where's the picture of Abu Hamza,the hard soul of Finsbury? This would counterbalance the picture of Ian Duncan Smith,the hard soul of Westminster. They deserve each other.

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  • MrGarnet  |  January 11 2013, 5:55PM

    Until I see the cut off points for benefits I don't think it is worth commenting on? Say the cut off is a 2 person household on say £45,000 per annum. If they need benefits they are in urgent need a calculator!! If the savings were channelled towards poorer pensioners I would be in favour. At the moment I do not as you all know the figures.

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  • a_calm_voice  |  January 11 2013, 4:41PM

    Martin Kirby seems not to realise that he's part of an incredibly lucky generation. We (I'm also a "baby boomer") have had things pretty easy with rising living standards and steady work available for most of our lives. Compared with previous generations, and I fear also compared with ones younger than ours, we've been blessed. He should remember that any money he's paid into his pension fund has received extremely generous tax advantages. And it's wrong of him to try to pin the blame for the collapse of the international banking system entirely on politicians. Bankers and financiers themselves must take most of the blame. Cheer up Martin, pensioners do pretty well these days compared with how things were in the past. It's only fair that we shoulder some of the current cuts. And don't tar everyone who sometimes needs welfare payments with the same brush, just because some people fiddle the system it doesn't mean that everyone does. In the same way, even though there are some burglars called Martin it doesn't follow that everyone with that name is one...

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  • SandraPee  |  January 11 2013, 4:10PM

    Now MPs think they need a 32% pay rise !!!! That would result in civil unrest and the """" hitting the fan !

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  • norman937  |  January 11 2013, 3:15PM

    Pay rise for MPs certainly***Providing they give up their free second homes funded by the tax payers,pay full tax,do not claim expenses, refuse cheap alcohol subsidsed meals,free shopping,reduce their huge pensions and pay offs,pay their own transport costs, do not expect any bonuses,put in a full working week, and cut the amount of their holidays significantly.Then, providing it is not above inflation I may agree.

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  • SandraPee  |  January 11 2013, 3:08PM

    Yes, Martin, spot on , plus, we've the lowest pensions in the EU . If they are hoping that the pensioners are too senile to remember how shoddily we're being treated then I've news for them .......... don't count on our votes at the next election ...... we WILL remember en masse !

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  • Spud0  |  January 11 2013, 1:36PM

    The vast majority of people receiving benefits are actually in work or receiving a state pension. I presume the people "who milk the system" refers to benefit fraud which actually very low whilst tax evasion is rife amongst the rich and is seen as routine.

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  • Michael_AH  |  January 11 2013, 1:01PM

    MP's with their gold plated expenses claims don't deserve a penny more from us - If we're enduring pay freezes then they should too, not demand obscene pay rises that they are not worth!

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  • lordigaga  |  January 11 2013, 1:00PM

    all you have to remember is, pensioners vote

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