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Friday, 1 June, 2001, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
Should care for the elderly be free?

The Liberal Democrats have promised free personal care for all pensioners, and pledges that the elderly will no longer have to sell their homes to pay for a basic level of nursing.

Labour say that while nursing care will be free, elderly patients in homes will have to pay for personal care, such as washing and feeding. The Conservatives say they would raise the basic state pension even further for over-75s, and abolish tax on savings.

Since 1995 an estimated 40,000 homes have had to be sold every year to pay for care.

But free care for all elderly people has already been introduced by the Scottish parliament.

With an ageing population can the country really afford to provide free nursing care for all elderly people? Or should care for the elderly be means-tested?

Have Your Say

Many have fought and suffered in war to obtain the freedom for others to get rich

David Britten, Ripley, Surrey, UK
The treatment of the elderly in this wealthy nation is nothing less than a disgrace. The contention that future taxpayers will not be prepared to pay for decent pensions is an admission of the new attitude of profound selfishness in the British population. The wealth enjoyed by the population is based on the sacrifices of those that society now rejects as a burden. Many have fought and suffered in war to obtain the freedom for others to get rich.
David Britten, Ripley, Surrey, UK

I have a few years yet before retirement (I am 55) but I want to be able to save instead of relying on hand-outs from the state. Stealth taxing pension funds, increasing National (Un-)Insurance contributions and taxing savings on which I have already paid tax won't be offset by a winter heating allowance or a free TV licence. I know current pensioners need some help, but if you don't let those of us who are approaching retirement build up some savings then there really will be poverty problems which will be totally beyond the capability of any government to fix.
James Hawthorne, Hull, UK

Pensioners need not choose the least bad of the 'big three' parties. The Socialist Alliance and Scottish Socialist Party stand for restoring the link between pensions and earnings, and fully funding free nursing, personal care and accommodation for all pensioners.
Ben Drake, York, UK

I am appalled at the way pensioners are written off

Jill Swindin, Ipswich, UK
I am appalled at the way pensioners are written off. At 63 and with a disabled husband for 19 years, our quality of life and dignity falls each year. I really fear for our future, but no one cares. Living on just our state pensions, we just exist, we don't live. A proper, respectable pension - for which we have contributed all our working lives - would restore our dignity and leave it to us to decide how we interpret our quality of life. We would remain independent and hopefully equal members of our community.
Jill Swindin, Ipswich UK

This government is the one that removed the tax-exemption on pension-fund dividends. It's also the one that removed the previous ability for pensioners to offset health insurance costs against their tax bill. It's also the government that has pushed interest-rates down, horribly affecting those pensioners whose income comes from annuities or investment-bonds. To win the grey vote, all political parties need to address these factors, which have vastly greater impacts on pensioner income than fiddling with the state pension.
Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK

Whoever wins the grey vote, will be well on the way to winning this election!
Phillip Porteous, Cumbria

The Labour Party has treated pensioners very badly and their promises for the future are the worst economically of all the three parties. The Lib-Dems are prepared to raise tax to finance their proposals. The Conservatives were responsible for breaking the earnings link and cannot be really trusted.
Malcolm Williamson, Oldham, England

William Hague has promised that he will give the same as Labour, only better. When will he offer the country the same as the supermarkets, buy one get one free?
Peter Burden, Bath,UK

Pensioners' votes count because pensioners remember the consequences of removal of freedom, as practised on the continent in the middle of the last century. They value the vote more than apathetic younger people who have never had to fight for anything. In other words, pensioners are likely to be there on polling day. I am 37.
Guy Chapman, UK

No party is prepared to reform pensions radically

Philip, Singapore
No party is prepared to reform pensions radically - which is what's needed. In Singapore employers and employees pay into a government controlled Central Provident Fund. Each of us has an account to which money is credited every month, and which we can invest as we like, or even use to buy property, but we can't withdraw money from it until retirement age. At retirement we can buy an annuity. Such a system gives individuals control - each of us knows how much money we have - and no government can take it away. Britain should adopt a similarly radical system, with a safety net for those in a transitional position.
Philip, Singapore

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