IN this letter I will refer to all elderly relatives as grandparents for convenience. Contrary to what Toby Young believes, I have come to the conclusion that were it not for grandparents the British economy would grind to a halt.

I travel quite widely throughout the UK and am struck by certain commonalities in most areas. My conclusions are based on my observations and so are not at all scientific but I personally estimate that of all persons delivering children to, and collecting from, nursery and school every day, 30-40% are grandparents.

During school holidays, children playing on the beach, parks and activity centres or simply spending time in shopping malls and areas are accompanied by grandparents in about the same ratio. In cafes, tearooms etc during a normal working week, grandparents are in a definite majority, and without their custom many such establishments would probably close.

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In this free-market-dominated world we live in, everything is measured by its market value, and if you are unable to participate in the market economy you are of no value, because free-market economics reduces everything to a commodity. Most commodities have a price, which is also a cost, but some commodities have no exchange value in the market and are only a cost.

That is how the Tories view pensioners: in market terms they have no value, so are useless, a cost, and costs must be minimised and if possible eliminated. Free-market mentality regards the elderly as non-producers and a burden, whose only significance is as consumers of limited value, and in areas such as health and social care are regarded as a significant liability.

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Their biggest crime is being a pensioner and therefore a huge financial burden on the Treasury and “hardworking taxpayers”, which completely ignores the fact that such people spent their entire adult life contributing to the tax and insurance systems. In addition to contributing to National Insurance, many paid additional contributions to an employee’s pension fund. However, in today’s Toby Young Tory environment they are portrayed as a burden and a drain on the nation’s wealth.

The Legal and General Insurance Company regularly analyse the average value of non-working mothers in Britain in a survey they call “The Value of a Mum”, and in today’s values the unpaid work of the average British mother is estimated at £29,535. In Scotland she is valued at £29, 628. This is work that mothers carry out on a daily basis that enables the family to function and allows the male in the family to leave the home to earn a living. Without this input, Legal and General argue that the economy would suffer considerably.

So, if that is the case (and it is a very good case), then working on my assumption of 30-40% activity in child care and family activity, allowing parents to work and contribute to economic wealth creation, the unpaid input of grandparents must be worth about £10-£12,000 per annum. In other words, if you wish to take a free-market approach to such social problems, then rather than being a burden and a drain on the economy, the elderly are of significant economic benefit, and that is only in the area of child care and ignores cafes and tearooms etc. If anything is utterly useless and a drain on the economy it is Toby Young.

Peter Kerr

THE logical extrapolation of Toby Young’s claim that”spending to save elderly is irresponsible” is that elderly people should not be given access to the NHS at any time, pandemic or not. Working people who pay their taxes should be made aware that they will get nothing in return from the state when they reach 70. Why not adopt Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World strategy of one in one out? Then we really would become the dystopian police state that Young longs for.

Mike Underwood

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