Conservative pension fears are growing

  • 11 April 2012
  • From the section England
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Elderly couple on Dorset coast
Image caption MPs in the South have been taken to task over George Osborne's 'granny tax'

The Easter holidays give MPs a break from Westminster, but also a chance to re-engage with their constituency.

And more than a few in the South are getting their ears bent over the Budget, in particular 'the granny tax'.

Christchurch in Dorset has the highest proportion of retired voters in the country.

The Conservative MP Chris Chope is concerned not just about the electoral damage but the change of principle he sees in the changes to the tax system that the Chancellor introduced as a "simplification".

Mr Chope points out that he has also been opposed to changes that affect child benefit, and he's considering pulling both threads together if he proposes amendments to the Finance Bill when MPs return to the Commons.

Savings concerns

"Underlying all this there is a big issue of principle," he says.

"Should we recognise in the tax and benefit system that some people have got higher costs than others?"

He points out that both the child allowance and age related benefits were introduced before the Second World War.

"Are we really going to remove these long-established policies which have enjoyed consensus across all the political parties for so long?

"Are we going to tear those up without having a proper debate about it?"

In other constituencies than Christchurch perhaps the issue would not have the same resonance.

But here people have the time to campaign against things they don't like. And a life time of filling in tax returns has left them very savvy to changes.

On the sun-drenched golf courses of the the south coast they're already annoyed at the way their savings have been undermined by the Bank of England's policy of quantitative easing.

Generation game

In Westminster that may be a policy few people are talking about, but in Christchurch Chris Chope says he's got the message.

"I speak to lots of pensioners in my constituency and they would say that times are pretty tough when the return on your savings is virtually zero.

"The pensioners who have put money aside for their retirement are finding that they're getting virtually no interest."

At least one MP will return to Parliament determined to press the case for the older generation.