Readers give their views on how to level up society without inciting inter-generational conflict
Polly Toynbee opposes a triple-lock increase to the state pension, but also says the current state pension is inadequate (The pension triple-lock is an insult to the UK’s young people, 1 July). She says the old are stealing the future of the young, but fails to point out that the young will themselves one day be old and want a good pension. She tallies up what UK pensioners receive, but fails to mention that they, like everyone else, pay income tax. Polly also ignores our comparators in Europe, for whom the pension entitlement as a percentage of pre-retirement average earnings is as follows: 82% for Spain, 75% in France, 51% in Germany, and 29% for the UK (OECD, 2017). Hardly a picture of UK pensioners living in the lap of luxury.
So what should happen to level up society? Three things: progressive taxation, progressive taxation, progressive taxation. Raise income tax. Approximately 2.5 million pensioners currently pay income tax. Recalibrate council tax. Those lucky enough to own their own home should offer greater financial support to cash-strapped councils, including pensioners. Tax-paying pensioners should also pay national insurance. In 2019-20, the Office for Budget Responsibility expected NI to raise £143.4bn. If the same number of retirees who currently pay income tax were to pay NI, the Treasury would net some £11bn.