- Thursday, 25 October 2012
Retired people should lose some of their pension unless they carry out community work such as caring for the elderly, a peer has stated.
Former benefits chief Lord Bichard said the controversial idea would prevent senior citizens from being a 'burden'.
But furious campaigners have attacked his plans - pointing out that they have already worked for decades to earn their state pension.
Lord Bichard, who lives in Nailsworth, Glos., is a former chief executive of Gloucestershire County Council, who later became a senior civil servant.
He is a member of a Lords' committee investigating the impacts of an ageing population on public services.
The peer said the Government should use the pensions system to "incentivise" retired people.
He admitted that the proposal would be difficult to sell to the public but said "so was tuition fees".
Lord Bichard said: "Are we using all of the incentives at our disposal to encourage older people not just to be a negative burden on the state but actually be a positive part of society?
"We are now prepared to say to people who are not looking for work, if you don't look for work you don't get benefits, so if you are old and you are not contributing in some way or another maybe there is some penalty attached to that."
Ken Lacey, chairman of Weston-super-Mare Senior Citizens Forum said Lord Bichard seemed to be confused about state pension, which is not a hand-out.
He said: "Most older people I know are doing voluntary work, such as in Oxfam or through their church, those that are able to go out and do it.
"The bloke is talking through the back of his head - we have paid for our pension through 50 years of work.
"I left school at 14 and started work, and I have done 51 years - I think I deserve my pension."
He also turned the tables on cross bench peer Lord Bichard, who is 65-years-old.
Mr Lacey suggested: "Possibly it is time for the Lords to retire when they get to a certain age."
Lord Bichard's plans came as a survey found older people are in danger of being stripped of their dignity and assets due to a failure to tackle how social care is funded.
Experts have warned that pensioners could be left in limbo because the Government is failing to adequately plan for the care needed by an ageing population.
The Local Government Association surveyed council leaders, charity directors, chief executives and other experts.
It found that 83 per cent believe the coalition has failed to move towards a system that provides enough funding.
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