Somebody does not like Gordon. They are mostly pensioners. The Treasury has been forced to release new material that shows he was aware of the consequences of removing the tax relief on occupational pension schemes. His own officials warned him of the pernicious consequences of removing tax relief, in that it would reduce the income of pensioners and adversely affect Britain's pension system.
The Chancellor dismissed the claims, but it has now emerged that he was given
similar advice from within Government. One of the confidential policy
documents states: “We agree that abolishing pension tax credits would make a
big hole in pension scheme finances.” Another stated: “Those who are about
to retire (or who have just retired) could be worst affected.” He was warned
that pension benefits “would be smaller and this would run counter to a
policy of improving retirement income” and that “The change would therefore
lead to a reduction in pension benefits for the lower paid.”
He was even unwilling to settle for phased reductions in tax relief that would have rendered the transition more manageable for pension schemes. This will be a further blow to the Chancellor's tattered reputation. He is now known as the man who ruined Britain's world-class pension schemes. The Treasury's response was abject nonsense:
A Treasury spokesperson said: “The Times analysis is abject nonsense and a complete travesty of the information they have received.
“What these papers show is that from the early 1990s, the Treasury recognised that dividend tax credits were an anomaly in the tax system which distorted business decisions and discouraged long-term investment. Anyone who pretends these decisions have led to the funding problems for pension schemes in recent years, while ignoring the impact of the dot.com crash, the pension holidays in the 1980s and 1990s, and the rise in life expectancy is simply distorting the facts.”
What comes around comes around. Some small injustices are now being remedied as the Chancellor is forced to deal with the bodyblows of decisions that he took ten years ago, before he moves to Number Ten. Why has it taken so long for the media to raise this issue though? The destruction of our pension system has been a slow-motion car crash that could have been pinned on the Chancellor at any time in the last ten years and should have been. This is a mainstream media failure, now partially rectified. I give you Gordon Brown: the man who ruined the pensions of British workers.