Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s spring budget has provoked feelings of both comfort and concern among organisations who work with older people.
Age UK welcomed the ‘standout measure’ to extend energy bill support to June, for which they and many others have been campaigning. The organisation are also ‘very pleased’ that the Chancellor announced £100 million for local charities.
But Age UK remain ‘deeply concerned’ about how some older people will manage financially. ‘They will need further support,’ said the charity. ‘Looking beyond June, there is a pressing need for a lasting solution for the wild fluctuations in energy bills.’
The Centre for Ageing Better welcomed the Chancellor’s decision to postpone the increasing of the Energy Price Guarantee for three months. The move will reportedly save every household in the country an additional £160 on their energy bills.
Ageing Better highlighted a number of new measures such as a scrapping of the Work Capability Assessment, an extra £70m over the next five years for mid-life MOTs and £63m on Returnerships designed to provide skills training for older workers.
However, Chief Executive Dr Carole Easton described the Budget as ‘a missed opportunity’ to adequately support workers aged 50 and above. ‘The policies outlined by the Chancellor are very light on specific support tailored for the needs of 50+ workers,’ said Dr Easton.
Independent Age believe the continuation of the Energy Price Guarantee will come as ‘temporary relief’ for some. But rising fuel bills remain ‘unmanageably expensive’ for many. The charity want the Government to prioritise a long-term solution to poverty in later life.
‘The Budget may have given the impression that all older people are financially secure. This is simply not true,’ said Director of Policy and Communications John Palmer. ‘We speak to older people every day who are skipping meals and are terrified to turn on their heating.’
Older people in financial hardship need solutions to help them. ‘No one should have to face a later life in poverty in today’s society,’ John Palmer added. (Photo of Chancellor: Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street)