Review of the Year - June 2012

New French President François Hollande slashes France's pension age from 62 to 60 - but only for those who commenced their working life at 18 or 19. Is this affordable?

Pride got the better of the boss of G4S, who claimed it would soon be running big chunks of the British police. And internet bank Smile frowned on a whole lot of savers...%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

Old, poor - but better off?

June commenced with council tax rebates funding worry - rebates were being slashed by 10%. The move, we explained also mean funding cuts for families where pension credit is widely claimed.

If you're old and poor you'll be protected. But if you're young and hard-up, it was not so good news.

The London School of Economics reckoned households from different age groups received roughly the same amount.

"This means that the required cut of £480 million must come entirely from the amount spent on working-age households," LSE research claimed.

Little to like

Then, there were few grins from Smile. The Co-op's internet banking arm announced it was going to be paying ZERO interest on all three of its current accounts. (Plus, it was hiking its overdraft rate to 18.9% from 15.9%.)

Yet push back 13 years and Smile was paying well over 4% for current account holders.

Meanwhile across the Channel, new President François Hollande slashed France's pension age from 62 to 60 - but only for those who commenced their working life at 18 or 19.

Contrast this move by attempts by previous presidential incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy who attempted to hike the retirement age threshold. France claims Hollande's move was socially "just" and civilising. But could it afford it?

Hollande claimed the costs will come in at €1.1bn for the next year, paid for by a rise in payroll charges from both employers and employees. However this cost will rise to €3bn a year by 2017.

But Hollande also had to find around €100bn in savings in order bring down the budget deficit to zero by 2017...

Soldier pensions worry

Then, more pensions worry - from the British army. Did the army deliberately sack soldiers because they were within spitting distance of claiming substantial pension entitlements?

Some soldiers with more than a decade of service in the world's most dangerous trouble spots had been sacked just before they crossed the 16-year army service threshold - where a substantial pension pot lay.

Then the boss of the world's biggest security firm - G4S, better known for its Olympics debacle - claimed private companies will be running large swathes of the UK police force by 2017, from managing surveillance to investigating crime.

But pride comes before a fall (the Games). Social policy think-tank Civitas warned against the move, specifically the worry that the police force is being increasingly used as a political vehicle:

"The tradition of policing by consent, which used to make Britain the envy of the world, is in danger from political interference that is alienating the police from the public."
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