For many pensioners especially, as well as the rest of the community and in rural areas, a local post office is a vitally important service.
So there was understandable concern when it was reported that Thorney Post Office was to close recently. As the local MP, I intervened with the Post Office and after an exchange of letters we have now received welcome confirmation that the original plan to move into the Rose and Crown pub in the village will now go ahead! All’s well that ends well.
Indeed, when I knock on doors locally, I often find pensioners are the most voluble folk, astute observers of politics and keenest to share their views.
It’s always good to be imparting good news, so I was delighted with the Chancellor’s recent announcement that the government is extending the hugely popular pensioner bonds scheme for a further three months. It’s estimated this will allow over a million over-65s to benefit from market-leading savings rates.
This has been the most successful savings product in our history, helping many ordinary people who’ve worked hard all their lives to build up modest savings. Interest rates are low, which is vital for families paying their mortgages and good for the economy as a whole.
But it does mean that people who rely on an income from their savings – most notably pensioners – have been facing a difficult time and why the government introduced these special bonds last year, and it’s good news that the offer will now remain open for longer.
The government has also introduced the so-called ‘triple lock’ on the state pension, meaning it’s guaranteed to rise by either the rate of inflation, average earnings or 2.5%, whichever is best.
We’ve also helped savers by abolishing Labour’s 10p tax rate on savings, to reward people who work hard and save for the future.
There will also be a new ‘flat rate’ state pension - and for people who’ve saved in a private pension there will be far more freedom on how to access their hard-earned money.
I’m pleased that this government recognises that pensioners, who’ve worked hard for our country all their lives, deserve something in return.
I’m sure I’ll meet many more retired folk with a myriad of opinions over the next 3 months!