The 3.3 million women “pensioners” who can’t get a penny from Theresa May

Today I am putting up on my website a  documentary film  released today made by the Backto60 campaign who have interviewed women now in their early 60s who suddenly found that they weren’t going to get their pension when they retired at 60. Some of them sadly have committed suicide, some have thought of committing suicide.

They are angry at both the coalition and present Tory government decided to change the pension age without any notice so they can plan. They are the people who have worked all their loves and brought up families, often sacrificing their opportunity to work. Some have even put extra money into their pension, only to find they won’t get it until they are 66.

The government shows no sign of giving in to them – in fact ministers like David Gauke, the  works and pensions secretary, have frozen other benefits instead- and if the Tories had a majority now would be pressing to end winter fuel allowances, free bus passes and the triple lock that guarantees pensions will  rise by 2.5 per cent a year.

There is a  contribution from Ken Loach, the radical film maker and pensioner himself, who made the searing film, I, Daniel Blake, about the trials and tribulations of being on social security after you have lost your job.

Iain Duncan Smith’s election present for the Golden Oldies: Bye Bye bus pass and fuel payments

Iain Duncan Smith's endangered species the free bus pass

Iain Duncan Smith’s endangered speciesthe free bus pass

George Osborne has made a lot of noise about how  pensioners  with spare cash are going to get  a fabulous deal under the Coalition – high interest pensioner bonds and the chance to spend, spend their pension  pot.

 All this is seen by political commentators as a  brilliant move by the  Chancellor to get the grey vote out for the Tories next year – with many of the measures timed for the election.

He also made it clear that pensions were going to be exempt from the new welfare cap – which will hit everyone else from lone parents, the disabled.and the working poor on housing benefit.

Sounds too good to be true for  the elderly. And guess what, it is.

Hidden in the specialist publication The House Magazine today is an interview with Works and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith by journalist Paul Waugh. And he asks: What’s your latest thinking about benefits such as winter fuel allowance and other universal, non-pension benefits for the elderly?

 The answer is : “The Chancellor has made it clear that they go into the [welfare] cap. So straight away they will be looked at in the same way as other benefits. Whether we have a specific view on those is a matter for the manifesto. It’s already very clear that they will be part of the overall balance of expenditure within the department for the benefit cap.”

So this broad brush promise on Budget Day is not true. Bus passes, TV licences, fuel payments, all available universally will join the rest of the benefits facing the chop.

What he doesn’t say – but everybody in Westminster  knows – is that the scale of cuts planned after the 2015 will make the last five years look like tiny by comparison. So it is my bet that we will see the end  of free bus passes and most fuel payments – because the size of cuts required will dictate it. And if you take the fact that Labour under Ed Balls is already committed to means testing fuel payments and the Liberal Democrats under Nick Clegg want to do the same to free bus passes. there is no escape.

And the poorer elderly  will find their social care all but disappear – as a fresh wave of local government cuts come into force.

Great policy from the coalition. Splash out your pension fund on a Lamborghini – but if you can’t afford to pay the full bus fares take up your zimmer frame and walk!