YET again I am driven to a mixture of despair and anger, this time over the presentation by Lord Willets of the Resolution Foundation Report regarding wealthy pensioners and hard-pressed young folk. Unfortunately, he managed to miss some highly relevant factors and areas of joined-up thinking.

I completely agree that many young folk today are struggling to get on to the housing ladder, pay exorbitant rents or save for an adequate future pension, but this is neither a new phenomenon nor the fault of current pensioners. In reality, though the sixties are regarded as the good times, those reaching adulthood then and trying to set up home had already come through the post-war austerity, faced much lower levels of available mortgages – never more than three times one income – and needed to have saved a minimum deposit, to prove their likely ability to afford the repayments, followed by interest rates of up to 15 percent.

Nowadays, property prices are admittedly proportionately much higher. But far from being due to wealthy pensioners holding on to their sometimes larger than necessary houses, the cause, I believe, lies equally with banks and the government. Almost from 1960 to the recent crash, banks offered ever larger mortgages and, with every correspondence, persuaded folk that they could easily be given loans for anything they wanted. So higher and higher offers could be made for houses while Thatcher persuaded everyone that owning your home was the only right way to live and the social housing stock was depleted and not replaced – a situation that still exists today. We now have a shortage of affordable homes, which allows many private landlords to charge exorbitant rent.

How could this be anything to do with the generation who lived through their own extremely hard times and scrimped and saved to support their families through education and to provide a secure home for themselves and enough savings to remain independent of the state in old age? If my own experience is any example, at age 25, if I wanted a white wedding, I had to make my own dress, and my bridesmaid’s. We began married life in rented accommodation, our honeymoon to a UK seaside town was my first ever holiday other than a visit to relatives, it took 10 years to save a deposit for a house and I was 29 before I could afford driving lessons! We were also the first in two generations of our families to own our house. How many of the struggling young folk today are without nights out, holidays, the latest mobile phone, new clothes every so often etc?

Are we not supposed to reward hard work and saving for the future? And does that not describe what the pensioner generation have done? Why should they now be expected to give up these very hard-earned assets? Moreover, these savings have been hit by austerity too, with low interest rates meaning they are worth less and less, and with care costs rising are unlikely to last as long as hoped. If the report suggestions are followed and they are reduced further to help the young, the state will end up having to pay when savings run out. If the house value has risen, it still needs maintenance at current rates out of the reduced income, which is already taxed anyway at normal rates and bands, and cannot provide cash flow if still in use. If some over pension age are still working and have to pay National Insurance, they will be paying in extra while shortening the time in which they will receive the benefit!

Perhaps a far fairer answer to the problem is to stop funding bombs in other countries’ wars or upgrading weapons of mass destruction, which so many countries have signed up to get rid of, and spend the resources on those problems that actually would benefit the lives of all our citizens without impoverishing any one group.

P Davidson

I HAVE listened with interest the debate that followed the Resolution Foundation’s report with specific reference to the generational inequality gap and the discussion about charging wealthier pensioners more to provide benefits to the younger generation.

In my opinion this is a false argument that pits gereations against each other. Why should it fall on wealthier pensioners alone to provide additional funding for the younger generation?

If additional funding is required, this should fall on everyone who can afford to pay. After all, a 25-year-old on £100,000 per annum pays roughly the same tax as a 70-year-old on the same income.

The perceived problem is not generational but a result of successive government policies. If the income of pensioners in the UK is an issue, why is it not an issue in the rest of Europe given that the UK state pension is one of the lowest in Europe?

Pensioners have paid tax and National Insurance and private and company pension contributions for many years on the clear understanding that they would receive an income (state and private pensions) and other state entitlements (NOT benefits) on reaching retirement age.

Undoubtedly, today’s younger generation is finding it tougher than their parents and/or grandparents. However, parents and grandparents are not the cause of their problems.

The solution lies in a truly progressive taxation system where all of those who can afford to pay more do so. It does not lie in setting one generation against another.

David Howie

So David (“two-brains”) Willetts, ex-government minister and Thatcher admirer, whose erstwhile party colleagues described as “too brainy for the Conservative Party”, is now after pensioners.

Still influential in government circles, he says: “Pensioners are also doing well because of the triple-lock protecting their incomes”. Would that include those whose only income is the state pension – one of the least generous in the developed world?

Think about how Westminster works: they rubbished the police before cutting; similarly with nurses/NHS before cutting; look how they smeared benefit claimants before cutting, and there are many more instances. As a pensioner (that generous state pension only) I have been noticing how, quite recently, we are being singled out in a negative fashion, either directly or by proxy.

The term “Baby Boomers” has now been engineered as an undesirable and culpable group. It’s happening now and that’s the warning! Ultimately we are governed by Westminster and I wonder what we can do about it!

Peter Barjonas