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Pension plan madness

So at long last the government is considering making it a criminal offence to mismanage clients’ pension funds.

Liberalisation by George Osborne in 2015 allowed 30 years of diligent pension saving to be drawn down and spent on a Lamborghini, or worse given to some fast-talking city spiv promising the world but delivering penury.

It is estimated that to date scams have already wiped £1 billion from people’s retirement savings. In May 2017 one retiree was persuaded to transfer £370,000 out of a generous NHS scheme to put into a self-storage investment allegedly producing 8% return. The pension ombudsman looked at this case and ruled the employee blameless but equally found he had most likely lost all his pension.

A £27 million a month loss for the vulnerable and misled since 2015 may even be conservative as many scammed suffer in silence, loathe to admit their stupidity even to themselves.

It beggars belief that a competent government could have been so short-sighted as not to have predicted all this.

The original decision, a response no doubt to arduous and insider lobbying, was crass in the extreme and a cynic might even suggest it was just to do with the potential for loads of new commissions for the industry?

Now four years later and following predictable yet appalling stories of irresponsible advice and mismanagement, the government seems at last prepared to do something about the consequences.

So if someone contacts you talking about new hotels on exotic beaches, buying storage units or cheap land for development with words like pension liberation, loopholes, free review, unique investment or ethical sunrise industries with 10% return, then you know what to do... run for the hills!

I think part of the reason the general public hold party politicians in such contempt is because of the way they put political dogma before common sense, don’t think things through and recklessly ignore perfectly predictable outcomes … and this time I’m not talking about Brexit.

John Stooke, Haydon End, Havisham Drive

Let’s learn from history

History teaches us that one of the first things fascists do is to claim national symbols for themselves and label those who disagree with them as unpatriotic.

That is one of the reasons I chose to stand with those opposing the “yellow vest” protestors in Swindon on Saturday. (It should be noted that whereas the gilets jaunes in France represent a variety of political views, these people have leapt on the opportunity to claim the yellow vest for their own purposes).

I will not stand by and allow UKIP to claim the union flag and all cenotaphs for themselves.

These belong to the whole country. While it is only my personal opinion of course, I believe that many of those who died in WW2 will be spinning in their graves at the thought of one party exploiting their sacrifice.

I would like to close by thanking the police for keeping the peace on Saturday.

It is true that tempers sometimes flared on both sides, and the police are stuck in the middle, but they stayed calm and impartial.

Howard March, Tudor Crescent, Swindon

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