SIXTY FIVE PLUS ONE DAY

Yesterday, 21st January 2019, I reached sixty five years, the new pension age for women. Stealthily and without due notice legislated under the equality label.  Sadly this equality was never around when I first began to work in the sixties.  Even though we sixties women were supposed to have changed the world, never had it so good and all the other cliches that go with that era, there is not so much said about what we didn’t have.

The married man’s tax allowance, which enabled the man to earn £600 more in the late seventies, rising to over £1,600 more in the early nineties, before he was taxed.  While we women forfeited that tax level.  In the belief that we would all retire at the same time and we were paying in to ensure that the difference of five years would be made up with the lack of equal tax allowances.

As late as the 1970s, working women were routinely refused mortgages in their own right, or were granted them only if they could secure the signature of a male guarantor. As recently as the 1980s, a married woman’s income still had to be declared on her husband’s tax return – so he knew how much she earned. And until 1990 married women were routinely taxed under their husband’s tax code; it is only since 1990 that married women have had the right to be taxed as individuals.

Which then begs the question how could such a law be passed five years later?

The Pension Act 1995, which added, in some cases, more than five years to the age of retirement for women, was followed by the Pension Act 2011, which accelerated the implementation in the name of equality???

I still have 105 days to go before I can receive my pension.  However there are some women who will not be entitled to the full state pension at all as they were not told the implications of what would happen if they paid the lower stamp rate, or SERPS or any number of income changes.

In short we lost out then and we are losing out now.

Adding to this dilemma we also have the unusual situation that if you were a woman born, like me, 21st January 1954 you will receive you pension in 6th May of this year, 2019.  However, if you were born in 6th March 1954 then you would not receive your state pension until 6th September 2019? Even worse if you were born in June 1954 you will not receive you pension until 6th March 2020?

So a difference in birthdays of five months results in an increased wait of ten months?  How is that fair and who calculated this difference and more importantly why?  Has the government another change to come?

 

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Breakfast Muffins

breakfastmuffins

Delicious and quick breakfast that ticks so many boxes.

You need six eggs, salt and pepper, couple of rashers of grilled bacon, handful of grated cheese, chopped fresh tomato.

First grill bacon till crispy, grate a handful of cheese, and chop tomato.

Turn oven to 180 degrees Fan, 200 degrees F, sorry you’ll have to look up Gas and Celsius for the above.

Other equipment muffin tin with six holes, grease proof paper, ladle or tablespoon.  

Cut out squares of grease proof paper, cross over in the holes of muffin tin, press down, but don’t worry if they don’t stay down as the weight of the muffin mixture will hold them down.  Or you can just damp down with a tiny bit of water to hold the paper in place.

Break 6 eggs into a large enough bowl to beat together add salt and pepper to taste.  Chop, or or use scissors, the crispy bacon into small pieces, add grated cheese, mix all well together.

Get a ladle or spoon or if you have made the mixture in a jug, and ladle or pour into the prepared tin, lined with paper. This mixture made four breakfast muffins.  Try and make sure that the mixture is equal in each tin so that they are cooked at the same time. Add chopped fresh tomatoes, not tinned as they are too wet for this dish. At this point you can add some chopped parsley, basil or any other fresh herbs that you like.

Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes.  If top of muffin is firm they’re ready.  Take out of oven and serve immediately, which is best, but can be kept for next day or same day lunch box.

Variations.  Try smoked salmon and chopped fresh spinach.  Mozzarella cheese and basil.  Cooked courgette and feta cheese.  Roasted peppers, garlic and aubergine.  Mackerel and preserved lemon.

Or experiment to your hearts content!

 

We all have to do something we don’t like?

Why?

Someone said this to me the other day as if it were a rite of passage that we all have to go through to gain some benefit for our inner self.  To show that we have some back bone.  That we are made of stronger stuff than we originally thought.  Or some of us put ourselves into a stressful situation to test our mettle.  For those readers who may be under the age of sixty – mettle – a person’s ability to cope well with difficulties, spirit, resilience. Possessing tenacity, fortitude, fearlessness, courage, bravery……..this country is full of people with mettle, without even knowing it.

How much mettle have you got left?  I suppose it depends on your circumstances.  If you are reading this blog then I assume you may have an inkling of life as a carer, or a mother or father or guardian. I guess your mettle depends on many factors, many of which will be outside your control.  How many children do you have?  Are they all healthy?  Do you have enough money coming in to make sure they have a home, food, water, clothes? Can you cope with everyday life?  Have you enough mettle?

I read two articles in the i paper yesterday which highlighted how much tenacity and fortitude one has to have.  Oliver Brown was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2016.  He is ten years old.  The Browns who live in Plymouth have to travel 120 miles each way weekly (since May, so since the start of peak holiday season) to ensure their son receives the life saving treatment he needs.  For any of us who live in the South West this will entail the nightmare journey of travelling on the M5, we could be sitting for hours, during peak season, or if we have the opportunity travel really late.  I suspect that, bearing in mind that Mr Brown has had to give up work, unless they pay for an overnight stay, they will be looking at anything upwards of two hours each way.  Do you think they want to do this?  What do you think they have learned from this experience?

I don’t think having “mettle” is all it is cracked up to be.  I think many of us would be happier to be able to have better access to necessary services that we have contributed to over the years.  This government promised better education, better NHS services and who knows how long the Social Care green paper is going to be before we can be consulted!

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

It is two years since I wrote a post that allowed me to offload hurt.  I have now deleted it and replaced it with this one.

At that time I was in a very bad place.  Twenty four seven pain makes you ……. shall we say a little tetchy?  Recovering from a bi lateral hip operation was the turning point for me and my family.  I am very, very grateful for my surgeon, Mr Temple my lovely Hungarian  anaesthetist, nurses, the ones that aren’t nurses but also help out, cleaners, trolley ladies and the lady that came around with the papers.  My heartfelt thanks to all of you. The thought that there is even a chance that North Devon Hospital will close is unacceptable and we must do everything to preserve this amazing hospital.  Along with all the others that have been the envy of the world.  Not least USA.  It is obscene that Virgin are surreptitiously buying bits of NHS services, with the full support of our government.

Things have changed and I have moved on and life is much better than it was.  Not least because I have another gorgeous grand daughter and because I will be ……. dare I say it drawing my pension next year!  Six months and counting.  Can’t come soon enough.

Things are far from perfect, in this present climate that is hardly a surprise.  But I am determined to make things change for the better.  And my quote above applies to positive actions as it does to negative ones.  The more positive I become the less stressful I am.  It is going to be my mantra.  What I will do is be kind.  Thoughtful.  Caring.  Try and be positive about everything.  If I do then that is what will come back to me and that is a wonderful thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call me cynical but……

On Friday 5th February I received a phone call from my favourite department the Employment and Support Allowance folk in Caerphilly.  It was nearly four in the afternoon and I wasn’t expecting a call back.

“We are just phoning to arrange a call back to discuss you Work Capability Assessment.”

“Why?”

“So that you can discuss any changes in your condition.”

“Why?”

“So that the Decision Maker (read GOD) can make a final decision on your claim.”

“But I thought that was what the Work Capability Assessment, by a Medical Professional was all about.  To assess me in person and make a report about my capability to return to work or not.  How will someone who hasn’t seen me be able to make a decision without meeting me?”

“Will you can tell the Decision Maker if your condition has become worse.  Or he can just make a decision without talking to you.”

This was the point that I felt that something was not right.  As we had been speaking I had looked at the leaflet that explains what happens when you have a Work Capability Assessment and nowhere does it stipulate that you will be contacted after to discuss the report by the Medical Professional.  Certainly not when you do not have the report to discuss!  We made an appointment to receive a call back on Tuesday 9th February.

Today, 8th February I contacted the Employment and Support Allowance department to cancel that appointment as after reading up on the procedure on the excellent Disability Rights UK website I can see that you can ask to receive a copy of the Medical report.

So I did, I asked for a copy to be sent to me as I explained to the person on the phone I was not able to discuss a report over the phone with someone who had a copy of the report but I did not.  He was not happy with this and continued to try and persuade me that they would read out the report to me?

“Then please send it and we will rearrange a call back once I have received it.”

I have my doubts as to what will happen next, but rest assured I will keep you posted!

 

Queue up if you’re over 60

I didn’t watch the whole debate on Monday with regard to the speeding up of denying women born in the 1950’s their full entitlement of pension years, by moving the goal posts twice, the Pension Act of 1995 but rushing it forward in 2011.  I happen to be one of the unlucky women who fall into the zone that means that instead of having to wait eighteen months for my pension, it was moved to having to waiting five years and four months, not that I’m counting.

Not only have we been hit twice by the changes, which obviously affect women more than men, due to the fact that we have to catch them up, but how would we be able to sustain ourselves for those missing year.  Examples given have been the following:

Mrs X worked as a teacher, throughout her working career and accumulated 40 years of National Insurance Contributions.  She was due to retire at 60 years old as she was born in March 1954.  With the Pension Act of 1995 her plans were put on hold and she would be almost 62 by the time her pension was paid.  She asked her private pension provider how much she could draw down to close the gap of the two years and was happy that, although a tight squeeze she could still retire at 60.  In the Pension Bill of 2011 with less than three years to go before her retirement the Government had changed her state retirement age to almost 65 years old.  She was not notified of this change, not by the government or her pension provider.  So she retired at 60 and asked for the private pension payment, only to then find out in 2014 about the change.  How would she cope?

This is the advice that has been given by the government after announcing that there would be no change to the present system.

“Shailesh Vara, a Work and Pensions minister, defended the policy by insisting it needed to be considered in a “broad context” alongside a “whole lot of other benefits”.

He told MPs: “We need to look at things in a broad context. There are a whole lot of other benefits that are available to the women who may be affected.

“For example there’s jobseeker’s allowance, there’s Employment and Support Allowance, there’s income support, carers’ allowance, Personal Independence Payments.”

So a working woman of 60 years old who has worked all her life should then be subjected to the sole destroying cycle of attending JobCentre’s, places that most working women have never been in, attend work placements, interviews for fear of being sanctioned and not receive the pittance the government has decreed that is enough for her to live on and then be made to feel a drain on society because she does.

Where is the fairness and equality in that?

 

 

Born in the 1950’s?

On Monday, 1st February 2016, the public debate, which was given the go ahead after an online petition received nearly 150,000 signatures, the House of Commons decisions of petitions committee decreed that the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) could have their say.

Many women who have paid into the NI for over the qualifying thirty five years will be denied the pension that they had anticipated at 60………if you did not receive a letter or are not interested in pensions, finance or have no access to that information.  Originally the pension age for those born between 6th October 1953 and 5th April 1955 will lose out to an estimated £20,000 to £30,000 because this government changed the original Pension Act 1995 in 2011 to speed up the process.  Unfortunately they forgot to write to anyone.

So even if you diligently take care of your finances and were aware that you would not be retiring at 60 but at, in some cases, 61, 62 etc. most women were not prepared to have to wait another five years to receive their pensions.  More importantly no-one notified them that this was going to be the case.  There may be many articles that relate to the Pensions Act of 1995 but hardly any that relate to the changes made in 2011.  DWP state that they sent out letters to all those affected, this is a blatant lie, as has been proven time and time again.  In the debate on Monday, please see attached link, the Teachers Pension Scheme was used as an example of a large organisation who did not know about the changes in 2011!

According to research undertaken by Carer’s UK in May 2014 with figures from 2011 census, women make up 72% of the people receiving Carers Allowance, which is paid for people who care for family and friends for more than 35 hours per week, out of a total of 6.5 million carers.

The majority of these women have worked for more than the 35 contributor years needed to enable them to receive the state pension.  Many women have worked for over 40 years.  Is it right and fair that women, many of them mothers and carers, should have to wait up to six years in some cases before they can receive their state pension?  Of course it isn’t no matter which way you argue it.

Support WASPI show that we can bring about change and that we won’t let this one go!!!!

http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/bf878aac-b8e6-40a2-bc03-9bbe5254fc92