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‘Mean spirit’ delays pension rise

Pension consultant Ros Altmann has labelled Chancellor Alistair Darling “mean-spirited” for waiting until November to implement a £4,000 boost to the capital disregard on pension credit.

Darling has increased the capital disregard from £6,000 to £10,000, which he claims will see pensioners gain an average £4 a week.

He said: “The fall in interest rates has been a welcome benefit to the economy and millions of homeowners but this has also reduced the amount of interest paid on savings and particu- larly hit pensioners. For over a decade, the capital disregard has been at £6,000 or below. I believe it is now time to increase these limits, which will help compensate modest-income pensioners with limited savings.”

But Altmann says pensioners cannot afford to wait until November. She says: “There is a lot of jam in this Budget for tomorrow but pensioners will not be alive to benefit from it. Pensioners lost their income months ago and many are doing without meals. It is mean spirited not to implement the change now. Darling has announced instant action for mortgages and banks but when it comes to pensioners, there is no sense of urgency.”

Darling has also reaffirmed that the basic state pension will rise by 2.5 per cent at the next tax year regardless of inflation, which is expected to remain negative until September.

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