Jan Shortt, General Secretary of the National Pensioners’ Convention said:
The Chancellor’s failure to help our oldest and poorest with his Spring Budget has set the stage for one of the worst humanitarian disasters to hit this country – and ironically, one the government will still have to pay for.
There was nothing whatsoever for pensioners - our oldest and most vulnerable - in his statement. By side-stepping those already struggling with the worst cost of living crisis on record* he is allowing, and possibly even accepting that they will fall into real poverty which is an absolute disgrace.
Older and vulnerable people on low and largely fixed incomes, with no wriggle room on their personal budgets – even with access to Pension Credit and other shrinking or disappearing allowances - are likely to default on basic bills and find themselves facing homelessness or becoming seriously ill and require hospitalisation or emergency social care.
It will be left to our already hard-pressed NHS and social services to deal with the human cost of the Chancellor’s neglect. For the sake of not taking mitigating action now - the highest inflation (6.2% and rising) in 30 years, and energy bills that will cost the pensioners a further £700 this year - he is passing the problem onto our health and care services, with those bills having to be paid for by the Exchequer.
The fact that the Chancellor has not responded to a number of requests from the NPC and others to at least reinstate the Triple Lock on April's annual State Pension increases, shows no compassion for a generation who have paid (and still pay) for the pension they get. A state pension that is one of the most inadequate in the industrial world.
All in all, the NPC does not accept that pensioners could not have been awarded a rise at the real rate of inflation in their pension next month to ease the pain. Whilst we support the Chancellor’s measures to assist working people, such as increasing NI threshold, this is of no help to pensioners. Income for the majority of pensioners is £10K or less. If he had given everyone a £200 reduction in energy bills instead of a loan that we never asked for, it would show at least some thought for the least well off.
Two reports – from the Resolution Foundation* think tank and the Citizens Advice Bureau** – have starkly laid out the economic tragedy unfolding. The government claim they are protecting pensioners – who represent one in five and growing of our population today. But the reality is they are doing nothing of the sort. The UK is not a nice place to grow old in – and it is likely to get worse.
*Resolution Foundation - https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/inflation-nation/
** CAB – Citizens Advice Bureau - https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/our-work/policy/policy-research-topics/energy-policy-research-and-consultation-responses/energy-policy-research/crunch-point-protecting-households-from-record-energy-bills-in-the-coming-months/
Download the statement below