Britain's Retirees concerned about budget threat to benefits

15 March, 2013

Britain's Retirees concerned about budget threat to benefits

  • 76% of those aged 65+ deeply concerned about losing universal benefits, particularly prescriptions
  • 68% feel government is disconnected and doesn’t have their interests at heart
  • Only 6% think new flat rate pension will leave them better off

New figures published today have revealed that Britain’s elderly population is deeply concerned about proposed cuts to some universal benefitsin the Chancellor’s Budget next week.

The government is considering reducing universal pensioner benefits as a measure to shrink the UK’s financial deficit.

However, a nationwide survey of over 65s has revealed 76% think this is unfair, rising to 89% in the North East. Over 40% think other areas of government expenditure should be reduced first.

The Stannah Silver Census, commissioned by world leading British manufacturer Stannah, questioned 1,000 adults over 65 in advance of the Budget, to provide a finger on the pulse of an oft-overlooked segment of British society.

The survey reveals a generation that is disenfranchised with government policies – and very conscious of the need for bolstered State support in the latter years of their retirement.

68% think that the government doesn’t have their best interests at heart or is disconnected from their generation, but when questioned a majority of them expect the State to be their chief source of funding for future elderly care, far ahead of family, pensions or savings.

If they were forced to lose a universal benefit, Britain’s retirees would be most willing to give up free bus passes, followed by TV licenses.They are most concerned about losing free medical prescriptions, which is a bigger worry for those aged 65-74 than 85+.

When asked about the policy proposal to means test winter fuel allowance, half of those questioned by Stannah (46%) were vehemently opposed – rising to 63% in the North East.

Respondents are dubious about existing government measures already introduced to ease the financial strain, with one in ten going so far as to say existing government policies are irrelevant to them.

The new flat rate pension scheme, due to be introduced in 2017, represents the biggest overhaul of the pension system for decades, but almost half questioned by Stannah believe it will have no impact, with one in five claiming this government’s moves will leave them worse off.

Overall, almost 40% of the over 65s fear they will not have enough money to live on in the latter years of their retirement, despite widespread efforts to make retirement planning easier.

Patrick Stannah, joint managing director of Stannah Lift Services, said:

“There are 10 million people aged over 65 in the UK, yet this research reveals they feel at best ignored, and in many cases deeply disenfranchised.

“Many older people have already been severely affected by cuts to local social care provision and the rising costs of living – often forcing them to leave their own homes. This situation must not be exacerbated by the threat of losing those benefits that support health, well-being and independence.

“In tough economic times it is of course fair that everyone contributes – but these measures must be taken with clear consideration of the strains already felt amongst some of Britain’s most vulnerable people.”

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