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Pensions and the price of Growing Old

elderly man looking worried

Having watched ‘Pensions and the price of Growing Old’, the recent episode of Dispatches last night it is quite clear the government is not doing enough to help look after our aging population.

In the past 5 years there have been over £13.5 million cuts made to sheltered accommodation.  More than 60,000 people over the age of 65 now no longer receive meals on wheels.  That with the fact that over 4 million people aged 60 or over are now living alone is frightening. These figures will only increase unless something is done. Then there is the crime issue and attacks on old vulnerable people living alone which have gone up. Over the last 5 years violent crimes against those aged 65 are up 75%. This is disgraceful and has to stop.

tax avoided statsThe Solution – Get the Tax Gap Down

If you ask the government about these cuts they will say there just isn’t the money and the cuts had to be made. I don’t understand why when a government needs to make cuts; it cuts services to our poorest, rather than finding the money. There is plenty out there and its not hard to find if they look for it. I have the solution.  And it’s one that if the government classed as top priority, it would solve a lot of the problems we have in this country and make a far better society.  And it’s quite simple. There is enough money out there full stop. The government needs make it a priority to close tax loop holes and put some effort into getting the UK tax gap down.

The UK tax gap is the difference between the tax that should be paid in the UK tax system and the amount actually paid. According to a report by PCS the tax gap for 2013/2014 was £119.4 billion and it’s rising.  That’s over £100 BILLION and a lot of that debt is written off as irrecoverable. The majority of the evaded and uncollected tax is from the rich and they are all breaking the law.

I want to know what the government is doing to recover the £119 billion. And why lowering this tax gap isn’t its top priority.

Why should those on low incomes having paid tax their whole lives be penalized because the rich get away with it. The biggest tax evaders have always been the richest.

Just think what just one billion recovered from tax evaders could do for our growing elderly population, let alone what 10 or 50 billion could do.

The Department Health of said “By 2020 we will have a million more over 70s, so we know we need to make transformational change to the way we provide care for the elderly”.  You don’t say!  Well there is plenty that can be done but sadly British society favors the rich and the current government favors the rich.

It’s quite clear we cannot rely on the state to support us or our elderly relatives in old age unless there is a revolution or we vote in a government which closes this gap between the rich and poor.  Yes families should help if they can, but not every family can help.  If you have plenty of money, there are places where you can move to, luxury retirement homes with nurses and wardens on hand, the show highlighted that.  But sadly it seems the gap between the richest and poorest is worse now more than ever. The majority of the elderly and most venerable are not in that bracket.  They have worked their whole lives and are now being let down by society.

The Department of Health also said that attitudes need to change too, so that it becomes as normal to talk about elderly care with your boss as about childcare. Family planning must be as much about care for older generations as planning for younger ones.  This I couldn’t agree more with. I think we could do more as a community.  Perhaps a street by street elderly watch type incentive, where those that opt in offer to help our neighbors out where we can. Whether that’s by providing a hot meal, a friendly chat or offering to get some shopping in, we could all do a lot more.   But there will always be those unfortunate elderly folk with ailments which need specialist care which go beyond what neighbors and even family members can offer.  This is where the government should step in and ensure that all the hardworking honest tax payers get the help and care they are entitled to.

Governments need to stop wasting time looking for cuts in social care and elsewhere and spend the time reclaiming and ensuring the wealthiest and the larger companies pay their tax full stop.  Loop holes need to be closed and those that avoid tax should be punished. If the government managed to get the tax gap down by just 10% and this money was then ethically shared out, we wouldn’t have half the problems we do in this country.

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