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Means have no end in sight

OK, so the Chancellor has &#39given&#39an 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&#39s own projections for future take up reflect.

Means-testing demonstrably doesn&#39t work and is clearly unpopular too. Those of us in financial services don&#39t like it because it renders the seemingly simple task of distributing pensions practically impossible. Pensioners don&#39t 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 &#39fair&#39 to modest savers, and in terms of providing &#39extra&#39 money for them. Those of us who properly understand these issues can only sit listening to this stuff and shaking our heads. Happy days.

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