Wealthy retirees could lose benefits
Published on 17 October 2013 02:00 PM
Older people need to bear more of the burden of austerity, claims a Government adviser.
Alan Milburn, the former health secretary and a Coalition consultant on social mobility, has called for a review into the benefits that the older generation receives in order to make life easier for the young.
He believes wealthy retirees should lose things like their free television licences and winter fuel allowance.
The comments came as the former Labour minister published his first annual report commissioned by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
In it he also claims the minimum wage should be pushed up to improve living standards for hard-pressed workers.
'It would be wrong to punish older people'
But Mr Clegg has already rejected the recommendations to treat older people less generously. Even before the report was officially published, he made clear that he did not support significant benefit cuts.
'I think Nick is right to say that it would be wrong to punish older people,' said Mr Milburn.
'I think the question is: is it right that at a time when working families are seeing their wages stagnating and their public services being cut that wealthy older people have their benefits protected?
'There is a strong case for looking again at things like the winter fuel allowance or free TV licences, particularly for better-off older people in order that we ensure there is a fairer sharing of the burden.'
Mr Clegg, on the other hand, believes that punishing older people is not the way to go about changing society for the better.
Work no longer 'a cure for poverty'
Recently speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Milburn said that the economic recovery was 'unlikely to end a decade-long trend of the top half of society prospering and the bottom half stagnating'.
He added that work was no longer a 'cure for poverty' and Government and employers both had to address the question of how to 'make work pay'.
'Tax credits have got a part to play,' declared the coalition's social mobility tsar. 'But employers have to look again at the wages they pay and the career opportunities they provide.'
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director for Age UK said:
'It's true that younger people are facing huge challenges in the current economic climate. But we must not forget that older people have also been affected. Many are struggling, despite having worked for decades, paid taxes and contributed to society. 1.6 million pensioners are living in poverty while 1.2 million are living in fuel poverty and struggle to stay warm.
'As a country we have made big strides in beginning to reduce the numbers of older people for whom retirement is extremely tough. It would be a tragedy to reverse those steps forward.'
Copyright Press Association 2013