“The Chancellor has failed to address the urgent need for pension reform” – Jo
Jo Swinson MP has described today’s budget statement by Gordon Brown as a missed opportunity to reform the tax and pension systems.
Commenting on the budget, Jo said:
“In today’s budget, the Chancellor has failed to address the urgent need for pension reform. Ministers from the Department for Work and Pensions have admitted that around 170,000 pensioners in Scotland who are eligible for Pension Credit are not claiming it.
“The current system of means-testing for Pension Credit is off-putting and overly complicated, meaning that the most vulnerable people are missing out by not applying for the benefits due to them.
“A Citizens Pension, based on the Turner proposals, would end mass means testing and benefit women in particular who often have gaps in their national insurance contribution records due to time spent out of the labour market.
“Another topic glossed over by the Chancellor today was the glaring unfairness within our tax system. The fact that the top 20% of earners in our society are still paying less tax as a percentage of income than the bottom 20% is a scandal.
“This gross inequality needs to be tackled by redistributing the tax burden, without raising taxes. By replacing the unfair council tax with a local income tax based on people’s ability to pay, the burden on the poorest in society would be alleviated.”
The budget is also seen as having failed to make serious progress in addressing environmental concerns.
Commenting further, Jo said:
“The Chancellor has tinkered at the edges of environmental policy but failed to bring about the sea change that is needed. Green taxes will continue to shrink as a proportion of the economy, and the restructuring of vehicle excise duty, whilst welcome, does not go far enough.”