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People must be aware of plans to cut pensions

Buried in the detail of the Conservative-Lib Dems emergency Budget last year was a change to the future calculation of pension increases. This will take thousands of pounds off pensioners over their years of retirement.

On Wednesday this week, I was one of the main speakers at a major rally at Westminster highlighting this issue. It is vitally important as it affects hundreds of thousands of pensioners and those currently working and looking forward to building up a decent pension for retirement.

The sneaky announcement in the emergency Budget that the Government would change the pension and benefit uprating index from Retail Price Index to Consumer Price Index will result in public-sector pensions, second state pensions and many private occupational pensions being worth much less from now on. It also reduces the increases for benefits such as War Disablement and Widow's Pensions.

Over the period of a 25-year retirement, Lord Hutton has stated that people will be 15% worse off. The move is a breach of commitments given by the Tories and the Lib Dems.

Local parties who were happy to accept their endorsement at the election - the UUP and Alliance - will have to explain why their franchise-masters devised such an underhand scheme.

NIGEL DODDS (DUP)

MP for North Belfast

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