Age UK response to the Autumn Statement
Published on 05 December 2013 03:00 PM
Responding to the Autumn Statement, Charity Director of Age UK, Caroline Abrahams, said:
On changes to the State Pension Age:
'Raising the State Pension Age for future generations will be good for the public purse in the long-term but not for individuals. It will be especially tough on people who won't live very long - who are likely to be on low incomes - because they may find they don't have much retirement left to enjoy. It will also be tough on those who lose their jobs in their fifties and sixties, of whom there are far too many at present, whose chances of ever getting another job are slim. And it will be tough on those in poor health who cannot work, or who are caring for others. For all these reasons we are worried this policy could create a more unfair society. To avoid this, the Government must do more to help the least well off as they approach retirement in terms of income and employment opportunities.
'If people are going to have to wait longer before they receive their State Pension it is all the more important that it is worth having once they get it. So the Government must secure the ‘triple lock' - which ensures the value of the State Pension does not decline - in legislation, and it has the perfect opportunity to do so in the Pensions Bill, which is currently before Parliament.'
On the absence of social care from the Statement:
'It is really disappointing that the Chancellor did not use this opportunity to address the deepening crisis in social care. Funding is failing on all levels to keep up with the ever increasing demand and the system is on the very brink of collapse and there have already been too many heartbreaking and shocking stories of people who have been let down by poor or no care.
'While the Government deserves credit for bringing forward long overdue reforms to the social care system - a great new system on paper is pointless unless there is sufficient funding in place to make it a reality.'
On changes to energy bills:
'With excess winter deaths significantly up last year, in part due to cold homes, the Chancellor missed a major opportunity today to tackle the root cause of the problem - the UK's poorly insulated housing stock. While many people will welcome a slight reduction in their energy bills, a far better strategy would be to focus on improving energy efficiency so that everyone can keep adequately warm at an affordable price - not just now but in the future too. We firmly believe that the only sustainable solution to the scourge of fuel poverty and escalating energy prices is a major overhaul of our poorly insulated housing, to ensure that cold homes are a thing of the past. In 21st Century Britain, older people's lives should not be at the mercy of the weather.'
On recognising marriage in the tax system:
'This announcement will particularly help married pensioner couples or civil partners where one partner has not been able to make the most of their personal allowance to date. Any measure that helps to improve the income of pensioner couples, particularly in the current climate, is sure to be welcomed. However, it remains equally important to tackle pensioner poverty among single pensioners, who are likely to be on lower incomes.'
Notes to editors
Media contact: Helen Spinney/ Liz Fairweather
Telephone: 020 3033 1713/ 1718
Out-of-hours: 07071 243 243
For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.
About Age UK
Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life.
We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to well over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and wellbeing, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.
Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we"). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).