Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Pensioners hit by Savings Credit cuts

If you're a Chancellor looking to get some money from pensioners, one cunning tactic would be to look for a super-complicated payment and change it, hoping no-one will notice.

Like the Savings Credit, for instance, which goes to 1.7m over-65s.

Savings Credit is so complicated most pensioners who receive the money have no idea how it's worked out, so they're only just discovering that they'll be getting less - as benefit and tax changes kick in from this month.

Why cut it? Because the Chancellor was scrabbling about for a way to fund hikes in other elements of state pension provision.

Savings Credit was dreamt up by Gordon Brown as a way of rewarding lower-income pensioners who had saved for their retirement.

It complemented the more straightforward Pension Credit, a means-tested top-up to the state pension aimed at the poorest pensioners.

Until now you could get up to £20.52 (more for a couple) on top of your state pension from Savings Credit.

How? Work out how much income you are receiving between a lower threshold and an upper limit.

Then multiply it by 0.6.

Then compare it to £20.52. If it's lower, you get the lower amount. If higher, you get £20.52.

Simple? Not.

Anyway, George Osborne's wheeze is to raise the lower threshold, which means the pensioner gets less.

And to cut the maximum payment from £20.52 to £18.54 a week, a reduction of nearly £2 a week.

The Treasury can argue that all pensioners are benefiting from the £5.30 rise in basic pension and many of them will also gain from a similar increase in Pension Credit.

So what's likely to happen is that those who claim Savings Credit will still be paid more overall - but their overall increase will be lower, because of the cut in Savings Credit.

Pension campaigners are incensed, accusing the Coalition of staging another attack on thrifty people who have saved for their retirement - another attack, that is, after the infamous Granny Tax.

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