Budget delivers 'a pittance' says Help the Aged

PUBLISHED: 13:43 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 16:40 14 April 2010

Age Concern has slammed yesterday s budget – saying it has not delivered enough for older people. Reacting to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's budget speech in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mervyn Kohler, spokesman for Help the Aged was scathing.

Age Concern has slammed yesterday's budget - saying it has not delivered enough for older people.

Reacting to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's budget speech in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mervyn Kohler, spokesman for Help the Aged was scathing.

He said: "This was a Budget that simply hasn't delivered enough for older people struggling with the soaring cost of living. Fuel bills, water rates, Council Tax and even food and other basics are all increasing way beyond the pitiful rises in the basic state pension and Pension Credit. As a result, more older people will face tough choices over the course of this year when what was hoped for was genuine action on pensioner poverty.

"The Chancellor rightly spoke much about families and children, but older people themselves merited only the most cursory mention. The signal this sends speaks volumes.

"It is a badge of shame that Alistair Darling has not taken more decisive action to combat the evils of fuel poverty. The one-off increase in the Winter Fuel Payment is nothing more than a sticking plaster which will fail to help pensioners over the long term. Older people need far more than gestures while energy prices spiral ever upwards.

"The announcement of a voluntary code on smart meters and more pressure on energy providers to introduce wider social tariffs is puny. This is a clear case of the Government passing the buck.

"This Budget also failed to address the issue of benefit take-up. £4.5 billion worth of entitlements for pensioners goes unclaimed each and every year and is instead used by the Chancellor on Government expenditure elsewhere. That money should be going to older people themselves. Automatic payment of benefits would help solve this problem by ensuring pensioners can make simpler claims for key benefits.

"Help the Aged calls on Ministers to deliver policy change which would deliver this and finally end the scourge of pensioner poverty, a cause which this Government appears to have left behind.

"All in all, this is a Budget which was long on warm words but which lacked the long-term solutions our pensioner population so urgently needs.

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