Age Concern and Help the Aged: Budget must aid older people

Age Concern and Help the Aged today the government to provide increased support for older people in next week’s Budget after producing evidence showing they were being hard-hit by the recession.

The merged charity found more than one in five older people were skipping meals in order to save money, 42% of older people were struggling to afford essential items, and similar proportions were cutting back on socialising (42%), electricity (41%) and gas (38%).

Low confidence in government

But with chancellor Alistair Darling due to deliver his Budget next Tuesday (22 April), the charity found 59% felt the government would not help older people cope during the recession.

The charity said that pensioners on low incomes were facing far higher inflation rates than other groups.

Charity director Michelle Mitchell said: “Many older people are being clobbered by high prices and are being pushed to extreme measures to cope financially – the government cannot sit by while older people skip meals and put their health at risk.”

Automatic benefit payments

She urged the government to introduce the automatic payment of means-tested benefits, such as pension credit and council tax benefit, saying that older people missed out on £5bn in benefits each year.

Other demands included:-

  • A package of measures to help low-income savers who have seen interest rates tumble.

  • Maintaining winter fuel payments at current levels. The government has increased payments from £200 to £250 for people aged over 60 and from £300 to £400 for those over 80 for 2008-9 only.

It also reiterated calls for an injection of £1bn into social care services for older people to increase access.

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