Age UK responds to the Liberal Democrats manifesto
Published on 14 April 2010 09:00 AM
In response to the Liberal Democrats manifesto published today‚ Michelle Mitchell‚ Age UK Charity Director‚ said:
"This manifesto clearly shows the Liberal Democrats have got to grips with many of the problems people in later life experience with innovative and thoughtful policies.
"But this positive work is undermined by the party's failure to provide any concrete proposals on how they will tackle social care - the biggest social policy issue for the next parliament.
"Creating an Independent Commission without a clear statement on policy direction will do little more than delay facing up to the challenge of fixing the crumbling care system. The only firm proposal on the table is to scrap the Personal Care at Home Bill‚ but it's not clear what will replace it. This is a missed opportunity when older voters say social care is one of their top concerns.
"The Liberal Democrats today scored 6 out of 18 for progress against the key priorities outlined in Age UK's election manifesto."
What are the key commitments to older people the Liberal Democrats have made in their manifesto?
In response to the following commitments‚ Michelle Mitchell said:
"The Liberal Democrats have shown real commitment to people in later life by proposing to scrap the Default Retirement Age immediately. Yet they have failed to back up this strong move with a clear strategy on increasing employment opportunities for older workers and getting unemployed over 50s back to work." 1
Raising pensions and the income tax threshold
"We whole-heartedly welcome the pledge to immediately re-link basic state pension with earnings - with a guaranteed minimum up-rating of 2.5 per cent - and increase it to the level of Pension Credit over time.
"While the majority of pensioners already have incomes too low to be taxed‚ raising the income tax allowance will be welcomed by older tax payers on modest incomes.
"The manifesto also puts forward proposals to reform pension tax relief. We support the need for reform to provide a fairer system with better incentives to save for those on low and modest incomes."
"Tackling fuel poverty requires a multi-pronged approach and the package of measures put forward by the Liberal Democrats is a step in the right direction.
"The combination of loans for home improvement paid off through savings on fuel bills‚ lower costs for the first units of energy used and a system of social tariffs available to those on lower incomes could potentially benefit many older households in fuel poverty.
"The extension of Winter Fuel Payments to people with severe disability will be welcome by many‚ but the new eligibility criteria will penalise those people aged 60 to 64 who fail to claim Pension Credit or just miss out on it." 3
- ENDS -
New commitments in the Liberal Democrats manifesto:
- Scrap compulsory retirement ages‚ allowing those who wish to continue in work to do so.(p.53)
- Immediately re-link basic state pension with earnings - with a guaranteed minimum up-rating at 2.5 per cent - and‚ in the long term‚ increase it to the level of Pension Credit gradually over time (ibid.)
- Begin a ten-year programme of home insulation‚ offering a home energy improvement package of up to £10‚000 per home‚ paid for by the savings from lower energy bills‚ and make sure every new home is fully energy-effi cient by improving building regulations.(p.58)
Reforming Winter Fuel Payments to extend them to all severely disabled people‚ paid for by delaying age-related Winter Fuel Payments until people reach 65. We will continue to pay Winter Fuel Payments to all current recipients of Pension Credit. (p.18)