As time goes on and government spending spirals, middle class workers in the private sector who pick up the tab for the welfare state might say 'I want out' writes UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom in PSE.
•There is an amusing politically surreal philosophical dilemma playing itself out over the winter break. Should wealthy oldies get the winter heating allowance? Some BBC television presenters are tying themselves in emotional knots trying to report it. You can almost hear the sound of their own creation, the Dalek bleating 'it does not compute, it does not compute'. The BBC is pre-programmed: all government spending is good, not just on themselves - don't they do well - but on everyone and everybody, especially old folk.
Yet there would appear to be a black and white case, is it not madness to give over £200 every year to the Duke of Roxburgh just because he is aged over 60. Would the money not be better spent on the old poor, struggling along on £120 per week? Obviously a no brainer. British Prime Minister David Cameron promised that he would not remove the payment or free bus passes from the middle class contingent. He is locked in because he cannot renege on a promise.
On the surface this appears to be a moral issue. Should the state give money to those who clearly do not need it? Yet if the question is broad and as a moral issue, it should be. This begs the question - should taxpayers, pensioners included, be paying tax to a government which sends £25m per day to foreign countries on a 'no receipts necessary' basis. Argentina is among the recipients, clearly a dilemma there.
Do not howl, another £40m per day goes to the European Union, even though no EU accounts have been signed off for 18 years. No, it does not all go to feckless and impoverished countries. Luxembourg is a net recipient with a per capita gross domestic product greater than the United Kingdom. Moral dilemma or what? Now getting back to the winter payment, the point at issue. My grandfather contributed to a pension scheme all his working life, some 40 years. I inherited the gold watch. My father, an ex-wartime Royal Air Force pilot, contributed to his pension.
In my turn, I am 63; I have put money into my retirement fund for 35 years while employed in the private sector. Leaving aside my recent public sector service - eight working years out of 40 - my pension at today's annuity rates would be £11,000 per annum if I retired tomorrow. Of course, my mortgage is nearly paid off and I have a clutch of individual savings accounts and an insurance policy. The point is adding my parliamentary pension, ISAs, house and so on would probably mean I would 'fail' a means test and lose my winter allowance.
With electricity costs higher than ever, mainly a result of an incompetent energy policy, I have to plough on only expecting state aid when I am virtually penniless. I have worked all my life since 1967. I have no children and have had no National Health Service care to speak of. I have paid more than £1m in taxes in my lifetime. If you are a professional man or woman of 63, you will get there too with fuel duty, income tax, value added tax, charges on booze and cigarettes, capital gains tax and income tax.
Most of this tax goes to feed the welfare state. An invention of Lord Beveridge to put a safety net under the unfortunate, which is now a life style choice for most of the population under 40. The whole thing has been funded by people like me. The really rich do not pay tax, incidentally. I have worked hard all my life, as has my wife, yet there is no winter allowance or free bus pass?
Might it not beg the question - why did I bother? Why save for a pension? Why not blow the lot and throw yourself on the state at 65 who will feed, house and clothe you, along with much of the rest of the world it seems. Wait for the nauseating spectacle of government ministers over 60 ostentatiously giving their allowance to charity, affordable with the safety of an indexed linked final salary scheme. How long before the middle classes in the private sector who pick up the tab for this say 'I want out'?
Godfrey Bloom is a UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, in the United Kingdom