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AGE UK response to spring budget 2023

Published on 15 March 2023 03:14 PM

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: "The standout measure for older people in the Budget was the thoroughly welcome decision to extend energy bill support to June, which Age UK and many others have been campaigning for. This allays older people's fears about their fuel costs going even higher, but of course it does not bring them down from their current unprecedented high, leaving many on low incomes in an extremely difficult position. When the triple lock kicks in this April it will be of enormous help, but we remain deeply concerned about how some older people will manage financially as they simply can't tighten their belts any further. They will need further support.

"Looking beyond June, there is a pressing need for a lasting solution for the wild fluctuations in energy bills we've seen, that have made it impossible for any older person to budget on a meagre fixed income. At Age UK we are convinced that the right approach is a properly funded energy social tariff and we are disappointed that there was no announcement formally committing the Government to this today. People of all ages on low incomes desperately need the certainty an energy social tariff would bring.

"We are pleased that the cost of energy bought via a pre-payment meter is coming into line with what everyone else pays - about time too, as it's outrageous that some of the poorest people in our society have been charged more. This will benefit around 600,000' older households and we hope is just the first step in the fundamental reform of the pre-payment regime. Next, Age UK would like to see a permanent ban on the forced installation of these meters, and an amnesty whereby anyone who has one at the moment can have it removed if they wish, at zero cost to themselves.

"We are deeply frustrated that the Chancellor spurned the opportunity to invest more in social care, especially given his avowed aim of removing the barriers to work among those who are economically inactive. Every year many thousands of women and men of working age have to ditch their jobs to care for loved ones, in the absence of a good, reliable and affordable care service being available. Unless and until the Government acts on social care the numbers of people in their fifties and sixties leaving the workforce to care are certain to grow. It's true that the Chancellor directed more funding to social care in his Autumn Statement but it was only a downpayment on the greatly increased investment this essential service needs for the foreseeable future, given our growing ageing population. If we at Age UK are profoundly disappointed about the way social care has been ignored in this Budget, the NHS must be more disappointed still, since our health services simply cannot function effectively for as long as our social care services are falling so short of the mark.

"The measures the Chancellor announced to encourage more over-50s to stay in employment are welcome, but mostly small-scale. The roll-out of Mid Life MOTs on its own will not go far enough to helping people stay in work for another 15-20 years, it needs to be coupled with a greater investment in skills and re-training opportunities, more flexible working, as well as improved support for everyone looking for work, whether they are benefit claimants or economically inactive. 

"Finally, as a national charity with some 130 locally based partner charities who do brilliant work to help older people in their areas, Age UK is very pleased that the Chancellor announced £100 million for local charities. With rising costs and growing demands on their support, these crucial community resources are really up against it so it is important that the money gets out to them quickly, with minimal red tape."


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Last updated: Mar 15 2023

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