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Alistair Darling announces state pension increase

Plans to increase the UK state pension by 2.5%, or 4% in real terms because of the negative inflation rate at the moment, were today announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This will bring the single persons state pension up to £97.65 with couples receiving £156.15 a week. There will also be a change in the pension credit system which will increase pension payments for those on low income up to £132.60 a week for an individual and £202.40 a week for a couple. So why has the government chosen now to increase the state pension?

Those who have followed the state pension saga over the last few years will be well aware that in real terms the buying power of the state pension has been falling for some time. It seems ironic that the pension increase announced today will "go live" in April 2010, just prior to the next general election. So yet again, as we saw with the winter fuel allowance, UK pensioners have become a target for the UK government as we approach the next general election. So what next?

Like any government in office, the Labour Party has used its position to reward and assist those on low incomes who are potentially "traditional" Labour voters. There is no doubt that each and every government in history has used various budgets, especially those just prior to general elections, for their own political means. Whether the Labour Party has gone too far this time is open to debate because areas of the population such as pensioners have for many years been ignored, until such times as local and general elections.

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