A classic British bureaucratic bungle: One in three GPs threaten to quit before pensions change
One in three GPs is considering early retirement to avoid changes to their gold-plated NHS pension scheme, a poll has found. Ministers want to increase family doctors’ retirement age from 60 to 65 – and eventually to 68 – in line with their patients.
But thousands of GPs are threatening to cut their losses and take early retirement before the changes come in, according to the survey. This could cause a damaging staff shortage just as the Government wants to hand doctors control of the NHS budget.
At the moment, GPs can take early retirement from 50, but do not get a full pension until 60. If they retire in their mid-fifties, their pensions are slightly lower, but can be topped up with locum work.
For the survey, 200 family doctors were asked for their views on the Government’s proposals, drawn up by former Labour minister Lord Hutton. It found that 36 per cent plan to retire before the changes come in. And one in four said they would take advantage of the ‘24-hour retirement’ scheme which allows them to retire early, claim their pensions – and earn extra money by working part-time for the NHS, according to GPs’ magazine Pulse.
Some doctors are so incensed, they have threatened to strike or take legal action – demonstrating just how hard it will be for the Coalition to reduce public spending by reforming public pensions. On Saturday, unions intend to march through London in opposition to the plans.
Professor Tony Avery, a GP in Nottingham, told the magazine: ‘General practice is a tough job and working that extra five years between 60 and 65 could be seriously damaging to health and life expectancy.’ Dr Colin Brunt, a GP in Manchester, said: ‘I would be prepared to strike over this issue.’ Dr Claire de Mortimer, a GP locum, said: ‘This is unjust and wrong.’
Richard Hoey, editor of Pulse, said: ‘GPs are furious about Lord Hutton’s proposals – they feel more strongly about pensions than about any other contractual issue. ‘The timing for the NHS pension reforms could not be worse. ‘The Government is planning to hand GPs £80billion of the NHS budget, but it will hardly be able to do that if GPs are quitting en masse.’
GPs’ £105,000 salaries are more than 40 per cent higher than they were before the negotiation of a botched contract in 2003.
Pensions expert Ros Altmann, of Saga, the organisation for the elderly, said: ‘This threat shows just how little GPs understand about pensions. ‘Working to 65 is not out of line with everyone else and although I believe they do a wonderful job, to expect full pensions at 60 is not sustainable.’
Emma Boon, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Taxpayers cannot afford to continue to pay for GPs to retire earlier than almost everyone else.’
Britain shows where advanced bureaucracy leads
Pay or we’ll raid your home, taxman tells 95-year-old widow (and they owe HER money). It was only intervention by a newspaper that saved her
HM Revenue & Customs debt collectors have threatened to visit the home of a frail 95-year-old widow and confiscate her possessions, even though she has paid too much tax.
This shocking threat was made in a letter that arrived on Saturday, just three days after HMRC chiefs had been hauled before a committee of MPs to explain the chaos that has engulfed millions of taxpayers.
The letter warned: ‘We are arranging a visit to your house. We will view your possessions and list those that we will sell at auction. We strongly advise you to avoid this as it will cost you much more to pay this way and can be embarrassing.’
The letter was received by Beryl Frew, whom Money Mail featured in January. Mrs Frew has failing eyesight and hearing, and needs daily medication for her blood pressure.
HMRC sent her a bill for £3,946.27 after she became confused by complex tax forms. We asked the charity Tax Help For Older People to look at her case. After examining her records it emerged that she has in fact paid more than £380 too much tax.
HMRC agreed with these f igures . But in another staggering example of incompetence it failed to tell its debt management section, which issued the threatening letter. A spokesman says: ‘ We apologise to Mrs Frew for the distress caused. The letter was issued in error and we are urgently looking into how this happened. We will be contacting Mrs Frew to apologise and put her mind at rest.’
Following our intervention, HMRC has promised the pensioner will not be visited by debt collectors.
Mrs Frew’s family knew the tax bill was wrong, but like tens of thousands of others, faced frustration in getting it resolved.
Much more HERE
Africa aid has been wasted and created army of beggars, says Mandelson
Surprising realism from a prominent British Leftist
Most of the aid sent to Africa in the past half century has been wasted and has turned the region’s countries into ‘professional beggars’, according to Peter Mandelson. The former Cabinet minister gave one of the harshest assessments yet of successive governments’ aid policies, warning that Britain had failed to help African economies grow. Lord Mandelson, a former business secretary, insisted that the money should have been poured into trade rather than handouts.
The Labour peer told The Times Summit on Africa in London: ‘Most of the aid we have sent to Africa over the last five decades has probably, in the main, been wasted as far as growth is concerned. ‘I’m not anti-aid, but if you ask me where I would put my money, it would go on trade rather than aid as a key to African economic development.’
His extraordinary intervention comes as many on the Tory backbenches are questioning the wisdom of the Coalition’s policy to ringfence overseas aid while making cutbacks elsewhere.
Lord Mandelson, who is also a former EU trade commissioner, then said that the elimination of subsidies and opening up Europe’s markets was key to helping Africa. ‘Far too much EU trade policy since decolonisation has interpreted our responsibilities in Europe as shielding these economies from economic change rather than in a progressive way opening up these economies,’ he said. ‘This has marooned many African economies, demeaning many African governments by turning them into professional aid beggars. ‘Protectionist economies are great sources of corruption.’
But as trade commissioner, Lord Mandelson proposed a blanket duty on all leather shoes from former struggling economies such as China and Vietnam. This was to protect manufacturers in rich, European countries. It was also under Lord Mandelson’s watch that the Doha trade talks failed, after five years of negotiations between the West and developing countries.
Malcolm Bruce, the chairman of the International Development Committee, said Lord Mandelson’s remarks were an ‘appalling admission of failure’. Mr Bruce said: ‘He was in government and in the EU for 13 years. What was he doing? ‘He spent too much time plotting rather than trying to reform aid policy.’
Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley, said he backed Lord Mandelson’s view that trade, not aid, was key to fighting poverty. But he added: ‘It is rather depressing that Lord Mandelson has only had a dose of commonsense once he left office and it was too late for him to do anything.’
The Government has promised to ringfence spending on aid policy. It is one of only two departments to have its entire budget protected – alongside health.
While other areas face the full brunt of the government spending axe, the aid budget for the Department for International Development alone has risen by 37 per cent in real terms.
“Quantitative easing” (money printing) is coming home to roost in Britain too
Families are being punished by the highest rate of inflation for two decades amid fears of an interest rate rise. Figures published yesterday put the retail prices index (RPI) measure of inflation at 5.5 per cent, the biggest annual increase in the cost of living since 1991. At the current level, inflation is higher in Britain than any other European country – except Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania.
The figures were released on a day of bad news for the economy, which included: The cost of fuel hitting a record average price of £1.33 for a litre of unleaded; The announcement that public sector borrowing was the highest ever for a February at £11.8billion.
The biggest problem facing families is that the cost of ‘essential’ items is rising, which means they cannot escape. For millions, the biggest battle is finding the money to fill up their car. The average price of petrol and diesel has never been higher.
Bungling British education bureaucrats
Education bosses shamed as recruitment advert for MATHS teachers shows equation… with the WRONG answer
A TV advert to recruit teachers was ridiculed today after a 15-year-old schoolboy spotted that a maths question has the wrong answer. Chris Coombs, 15, noticed the mistake in the 30-second government-funded advert, which is regularly shown on Channel 4 and ITV.
The clip shows a teacher writing ‘(g2)7 = g?’ on a whiteboard and later ‘solving’ it with the answer ‘g2 x g7’. But the correct answer for the algebraic equation is g14 – or g2 x g2 x g2 x g2 x g2 x g2 x g2.
Year 10 pupil Chris, who attends the John Cabot Academy in Bristol, criticised the advert and called for it to be amended as soon as possible. He said: ‘I was disappointed to notice that the mathematical calculation is inaccurate. ‘The workings the teacher is writing on the interactive whiteboard would not answer the question correctly. ‘I believe this should be amended as the advertisement in question is attempting to recruit potential teachers.
The Training and Development Agency for Schools created the advert using a real teacher and class. Several questions, pupil’s discussions, workings and answers were filmed and cut together to give an overall impression of a class.
But producers claimed the scene shown is of the teacher deliberately demonstrating an incorrect answer. She later went on to explain the correct workings and answer, but this was not shown in the short clip, they claim.
Simon Nutt, from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), which made the advert, said: ‘Our TV adverts use highly-qualified teachers with their real-life classes. ‘We make every effort to capture the spirit of the lesson in the final footage but there are inevitably some scenes that have to be cut down or cut together which may mean we cannot show the full details of a question, answer or comment.’
Chris, who lives in Bristol with his mother Sue, father David and sister Laura, said the advert caught his eye because of his interest in maths. He said: ‘I want to pursue a career in mathematics in one way or another – but not as a maths teacher.’