OK, so the Chancellor has 'given'an extra £2.5 billion to existing pensioners by extending means-testing. But, surprisingly, no mention of the fact that two million pensioners living on low incomes currently miss out on £2bn by not claiming the benefits already on offer. A depressing statistic the Government's own projections for future take up reflect.
Means-testing demonstrably doesn't work and is clearly unpopular too. Those of us in financial services don't like it because it renders the seemingly simple task of distributing pensions practically impossible. Pensioners don't like it because it is insultingly complex and needlessly intrusive – they dislike it so much that millions of them shun the system. The Government guys, though, clearly like the idea of means-testing. They like it so much, in fact, that this Budget places it, in the form of the Pension Credit, as a central pillar of their pensions policy.
For the uninitiated the Pension Credit was glowingly described in terms of being 'fair' to modest savers, and in terms of providing 'extra' money for them. Those of us who properly understand these issues can only sit listening to this stuff and shaking our heads. Happy days.