card is being played again. This time because the "deeming rate" on bank deposits has been lowered again.
I have mixed feelings about this because I suspect that the answer is not the simple one many people think it is. May I explain?
The Senior Cat was a teacher. He spent almost all his career in rural areas. In much of his time as a teacher the profession was not very well paid. He was in a position where he had first to board with families in the places he was posted to and then, when he married, he had to rent accommodation first from a farmer and then in various houses provided by the Education Department. These were the cheapest possible fibro-asbestos board houses it is possible to make. They were flimsy. They were cold in winter and hot in summer. They are still being used.
While the Senior Cat was doing this out of necessity - because teachers were required to go where they were sent - his city based counterparts were, if they were sensible, buying their own homes little by little. Most did. Some did not.
When he eventually returned to the city there was no government accommodation provided. The Senior Cat had to house the family elsewhere. As other teachers were almost finished paying off a mortgage he had, by necessity, to start paying off his brother-in-law for a half interest in the (fortunately) vacant maternal family home. The Senior Cat considers himself fortunate that the place was available and that his BIL was prepared to wait in order to see his sister housed.
But now the Senior Cat and his fellow responsible teachers and others who have done the right thing and saved and bought their own accommodation are being asked to subsidise those people who have gone through life spending all their income. These are the people who rely solely on the pension. They need extra help.
I know there are people who have genuinely not been able to save. I know that some of them are in the position of genuinely never having been able to afford to buy their own home. They have had medical expenses or other unforeseen expenses in their lives that have been unavoidable.
I also know that others have spent their money on their own pleasures. Why bother with money in the bank when you know you are going to get a pension at the other end? Why bother with health insurance or any other form of insurance? Why not buy the caravan and the boat and the more powerful car to tow these things? And so it goes on. Some of them have rented and never owned by choice.
And now they need more.
This is the message coming from the social services community. They are saying the deeming rate should not be lowered, that the "wealthy" people who have done the responsible thing and now own their own homes, who have contributed savings to their retirement should now be required to subsidise those who spent it all earlier. It sounds a bit like, "Well, we spent all our pocket money and now we want some of yours as well."
It isn't nearly as simple as that of course but when the argument about "the rich" paying for "the poor" is raised it is sometimes worth thinking about where the money is coming from. The answer is not always what others would have us believe.
We need to make sure people have enough for the necessities of life - but perhaps we also need to make sure that what people are getting is really a fair share.