Do not accuse elderly of bringing down welfare state

Ration books were commonplace during World War Two and until 1954
Ration books were commonplace during World War Two and until 1954
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I have been reading today’s papers with some interest because it is the first time I have been in the headlines. Not by name but by category: being over 65, I am a pensioner.

Apparently, we are the people who are taking the welfare state to the cleaners.

For the people aged below 55, let me give you a brief social history of this country.

In 1939, the vast majority of our fathers and grandfathers were called to a world war. This left our mothers and grandmothers caring for us, running machines in factories and growing crops.

Austerity is not a new word; rationing cut down all the goods available.

At the same time, people were encouraged to smoke, work in coal mines with no breathing apparatus, work in asbestos factories, weaving mills with no ear protection – all for the war effort.

There were no health and safety organisations in those days. The only organisations which worked on our behalf were trade unions.

We all wanted to pay the political levy, knowing these went to the Labour Party. More importantly, we all paid National Insurance out of our wage, which went to our pension and the National Health Service.

Thanks to the closing of mines, mills and factories, which used toxic products like asbestos, we have started living longer.

Now it is our fault the welfare system is out of control. It is nothing to do with the fact most of our politicians have never done a real job; that nepotism in all professions is the done thing or tax avoidance is rife, although no-one tries it on PAYE.

While it is wrong that people who live in warmer climes should receive heating allowance, and people who are on 40% tax should receive bus passes and free TV licences, it is also wrong to accuse elderly people who survived all the negative conditions of the past, of being a problem to the state. Without their contributions, there would be no state.

Frank Neal