In response to the protection of universal benefits for older people in the Spending Review, Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK) said:
“The Government’s decision not to introduce any cuts to universal benefits for older people in this Spending Review means they have passed this political hot potato onto a future spending announcement. Recent statements from Ministers and the Opposition criticising these benefits tells us that they can’t and won’t be protected forever.
What we need in this era of austerity is for Government to lay out a clear, robust and long-term plan for universal benefits. ILC-UK believes that all ages need to share the burden of spending cuts and introducing a progressive tax on older people’s benefits would be the only fair and equitable means for cutting back on spending on older people. Means-testing is too expensive and scrapping universal benefits entirely would be disastrous for those vulnerable older people who are reliant on their bus pass to avoid becoming isolated and their winter fuel allowance to heat their homes.
Any future decisions over cuts in universal benefits will also need to be tempered by the need to avoid creating an intergenerational conflict over benefits. As a think tank concerned with the welfare of present and future older generations, we call upon the Government and Opposition to ensure that concerns with inequality within generations as well as between them are made central to any discussions over benefit cuts”.
Contact: Jessica Watson at ILC-UK on 02073400440.
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