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A report by leading think-tank, International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) and commissioned by poverty charity, Elizabeth Finn Care, finds that seven in ten aged over 65 felt they would be most affected by spending cuts, as did the same proportion of 25-34 year olds. Moreover, four in five over-65s think that spending on their age group should be protected – as did over seven in ten 16-24 year olds.

Today’s report, 'The Spending Review 2010: intergenerational perceptions of fairness, cuts and economic recovery' builds upon an earlier report by ILC-UK, Intergenerational fairness and the Spending Review 2010, which analysed the impact of potential cuts on health, well-being and poverty across the generations, and urged the Government to consider intergenerational fairness as it makes its decisions about spending cuts.

Survey evidence, presented in full in today’s report, shows that nearly two-thirds of people (65%) think that job creation should take precedence over reducing government debt. Concern for the economic prospects of today’s younger people trumps concern for future generations of taxpayers. Those from the lowest social class (partly skilled and unskilled workers) who are ‘very pessimistic’ about the UK’s economic prospects in the next decade was over double that of any other social class.

The survey also reveals that the public thinks that transport (63%), out-of-work benefits (54%) and defence (44%) are the top three areas the Chancellor should target for spending cuts. Interestingly, however, less than half of respondents from London chose Transport as a focus for cuts (48%), compared to almost three quarters of those from Wales (72%). This may be a direct reflection of the higher dependency on public transport in London.

Most people reported that they would reduce spending on clothes (73%), entertainment (62%) and transport (58%) if spending cuts affected their household income. Alarmingly, 31% of older people said they would consider cutting back on food in these circumstances.

Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK, said: “If the Government is to convince the public of the fairness of spending cuts, it is essential that no generation today thinks they will be worse off than others. Yet most people believe that their age group will be hardest hit, especially older people and younger people.”

Dr Dylan Kneale, lead author of the report and Senior Researcher at ILC-UK, said: “The Government’s argument on protecting future generations has failed to convince the public. People are clearly worried about the impact of cuts on jobs, with the poorest more worried than most about the country’s economic prospects. The finding that almost a third of older people intend to reduce spending on food if their household budget is hit by the cuts is particularly alarming.”

The report is available to download here

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