The Single Tier State Pension

These are interesting times for debate on the reform of the tax and benefits system.

By the time you read this Newsletter the Government’s consultation period on the future of the state pension will have ended and we shall be awaiting the outcome. In our submission (reprinted below) we commented on the second option for reform floated in the consultation paper: a single-tier flat rate pension based on the pensioner’s contribution record. We wrote:

The second option without a contribution record condition would meet the principles of simplicity and personal responsibility. It would be fair in the sense that every individual would be treated in the same way. Those few people who might be thought not to have contributed to society would in any case be receiving a means-tested pension under the current system, so there would be little if any additional cost to including them in a new single tier State pension.

Another of today’s political themes continues to be the Big Society, and in this edition Bill Jordan asks important questions about its character and asks how advocates of a Citizen’s Income should relate to some of the ways in which our society might evolve.

Frequently in the news is the future of the National Health Service. Health policy is not a field normally discussed in these pages. However, the National Health Service is a universal benefit: unconditional, nonwithdrawable, and a right of citizenship. We would welcome discussion on how the debate on the future of the health service and the debate on the future of the tax and benefits system might inform each other.