The National Pensioners’ Convention has condemned Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring budget for doing nothing for pensioners struggling with record inflation.
On the day inflation hit 6.2% (ONS*) – the highest rate for 30 years – the Chancellor failed to announce any relief for pensioners who will only receive a 3.1% rise in their basic state pension next month, as the price of food and fuel rockets up.
Chancellor’s Spring Statement a ‘disgrace’
with zero help for desperate pensioners
There was nothing to offset energy bills which on average will rise by £700 a year from April, nor any mention of reinstating the triple lock on annual pension increases - suspended for this year – to mitigate the unprecedented rise in the cost of living.
His one big announcement for ‘working people’ on lower incomes – raising the threshold for payment for his new higher rate NI by £3,000 to £12,570 - is at least something, as is the easing of duty on petrol.
But NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt said: “There is nothing whatsoever for pensioners in this Spring budget which is an absolute disgrace. The fact that the Chancellor has not responded to a number of requests to reinstate the Triple Lock to help pensioners survive the huge increases in energy and food shows no compassion for a generation who have paid (and still pay) for the pension they get - one that is the most inadequate in the industrial world.
“The majority of pensioners do not pay tax as their income is well below the threshold so there is no advantage there.
“All in all, the NPC does not accept that pensioners could not have been given the real rate of inflation to ease the pain. A £250 reduction in energy bills instead of a loan that we never asked for would show at least some thought for the least well off. We are extremely concerned that older people will have to make critical decisions on how they spend their meagre state pension and the potential increase in pensioner poverty. Meanwhile, no change for the millionaires and billionaires.”
The Chancellor admitted inflation could go higher still this year – the Office for Budget Responsibility predicts a 40 year high of 8.7% by Q4 - as further increases in the cost of fuel expected in the autumn.
He did give brief mention of a doubling of the government’s Household Support Fund to £1bn, which will go to local authorities to distribute to. But with councils already struggling, it is hard to see how this will even dent the growth in poverty among our oldest and poorest.
Jan Shortt said the NPC would now be analysing the full impact of the Chancellor’s changes, as it is feared there are wider implications to consider.
*ONS – Office for National Statistics.
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