The following article was written by Senior Reporter Sukran Sahin and was published in the Barking and Dagenham Post on Wednesday 28th March. You can view the original piece here: www.bdpost.co.uk/home/e-edition
A group of pensioners has condemned the government's plan to freeze tax allowances, with one protesting that a £5 rise a week in state pensions would only buy them "two packets of fish fingers".
George Osborne's ‘Granny-Tax' has angered elderly people living locally
Members of Silvernet, the older people's forum based at Harmony House in Dagenham, shared their concerns about the recently announced freeze on tax allowances, which will cost the over-65s an average of £83 a year.
SilverNet co-ordinator Lawrence Darani, who discussed the changes with a group of older people during a forum session on Friday, said: "People said that Osborne was defending the cut with a £5 rise in the pensions.
‘£4bn not touched'
"One pensioner said it means two packets of fish fingers per week. Another said that there is a £4billion national insurance pot which has not been touched."
He said that many remarked that they had experienced the strategies and tactics with previous governments, when "attacks" on certain groups of people sparked the beginning of a gradual and sustained withdrawal of that group's benefits.
Mr Darani added: "For example, once the Tory government had beaten the miners in the Eighties, they went for the other unions.
"There is an attack on older people, but some have worked for many years and paid in to the system and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and appreciation.
"I have worked since I was 12 years old. We're not asking for special treatment, just for what we're due.
"We deserve some recognition for what we have done, especially since it is the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations."
The scrapping of age-related allowances, also dubbed the "granny tax", means that people aged 65 or over will have to pay the same rate of tax as everyone else.
The change is expected to raise £3.3billion for the Treasury to compensate for a fall in tax revenue from those earning £150,000 and more due to the reduction of the 50 per cent income tax rate to 45 per cent.
Although the chancellor claims that the giveaway to the rich will only cost £100m, critics have said that it will add up to around £3bn.
The tax-free allowance will be frozen at £10,500 for those who have already retired (at £10,650 for the over-75s).
State pensions will be constantly reviewed and adjusted to take account of the nation's longevity. This could mean retirement ages well in to the seventies and eighties for children being born now.