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9 February 2015updated 24 Jul 2021 11:16am

Even the right is attacking George Osborne’s perks for pensioners

The Conservative MP Dr Phillip Lee has criticised the Chancellor's election bribe more honestly than Labour has.

By Anoosh Chakelian

The Conservative MP Dr Phillip Lee has criticised George Osborne’s policy perks for pensioners more honestly than even Labour’s shadow Treasury team has.

The MP for Bracknell wrote a blogpost explaining his opinion that the Chancellor’s extension of the pensioner bond scheme is “a form of intergenerational theft”. He dismissed the pledge as a disincentive for young people in work, and warned against the main parties making “attractive pre-election offers to those in retirement”:

It should come as no surprise that people under 40 are less likely to vote than people over 40 when the main parties are competing to make attractive pre-election offers to those in retirement.

Instead, we have to strike a balance between the needs of the elderly, who are often on fixed incomes and less able to work for extra income, and incentives for young people in work who need to believe that the social contract currently in play in Britain is one that will be there for them when they retire.

Pensioner bonds do neither of these things – in fact, they act as a disincentive to younger people when our priority should be to incentivise them to work harder and be more productive.

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As well as the Tories’ own MPs attacking their policy, the well-known right-wing organisation, the Institute of Economic Affairs, has also voiced its criticism. “It’s high time our politicians stopped buying votes with subsidies for the old and rich,” commented its director Mark Littlewood, a high-profile figure on the right.

Interestingly, there appears to be more honesty in these interventions than displayed in the opposition’s response. Chris Leslie MP, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, stopped short of accusing Osborne of “courting the silver vote”, as George described it. Leslie focused instead on the pensioners who have suffered under the coalition, saying:

Don’t be surprised if George Osborne, as we get closer to an election, tries to give away all sorts of things when, actually, he is trying to erase the memory of how much he has taken away from pensioners.

If Labour can’t admit that the Tories are attempting to bribe those most likely to vote, when even those on the right are accusing them of doing so, it looks like we are no closer to making young people a political priority. 

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