The SNP has said the UK government must deliver a ‘budget for older people’ to boost incomes and tackle pensioner poverty – after a decade of failed Tory austerity cuts.
Mhairi Black, SNP Pensions spokesperson, warned the Tory government had pushed older people into poverty and driven down living standards.
The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, called on the Chancellor to deliver a package of measures designed to put cash into older people’s pockets:
• Guarantee the Triple Lock on Pensions – ensure the basic state pension rises by a minimum of either 2.5%, inflation or average earnings growth, whichever is largest.
• Action for WASPI women – put in place proper transitional protections for women adversely affected by the acceleration of the increase to the state pension age
• Boost support for veterans – exempt the War Disablement Pension from income for tax purposes
• Fund benefits for older people – protect the free TV licence and winter fuel allowance, and match Scotland’s free personal care, prescriptions, eye tests and bus pass.
• Introduce a real Living Wage – to support the increasing number of older people who work.
• Rule out a hard Brexit – commit to single market and customs union membership to avoid decades of damage to incomes and living standards
Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) found 1.9million pensioners in the UK lived in poverty, with almost 300,000 more pensioners living in poverty by 2016-17 compared with 2012-13 – the first sustained increase in pensioner poverty for twenty years.
And a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found the UK has the lowest state pension of any developed country.
Mhairi Black MP said: “After a decade of Tory austerity cuts pensioner poverty has risen, the UK has one of the lowest state pensions of any developed country, and millions of older people are poorer and worse off.
“The UK government must use the Budget to deliver a meaningful boost to incomes for older people – at a time when the cost of living is increasing, and a Tory extreme Brexit threatens to damage living standards for decades to come.
“The Chancellor must give a cast-iron guarantee that the Tories will not scrap the triple lock on pensions, as they had planned to do, and deliver support for WASPI women who were robbed of their rightful pensions by the UK government.
“In addition to boosting pensions, the Tories must introduce a real Living Wage to support the increasing number of older people who are working, and take action to put cash in people’s pockets by protecting benefits like the winter fuel allowance and free TV licence.
“In Scotland, the SNP government has spent hundreds of millions every year mitigating the worst Tory austerity cuts, and is investing in support for older people. The UK government should match Scotland’s commitment to free personal care, free prescriptions, free eye tests and the free bus pass.
“Action to improve incomes will mean little if the UK government continues down the path of an extreme Brexit. Short of staying in the EU, the only way to protect incomes and living standards is to retain our single market and customs union membership – and that must be the priority.
“This Budget must be a turning point after years of failed Tory cuts. The SNP will continue to push for an end to austerity, and for real investment in people’s incomes and the economy.”
Disclaimer: This is an official press release from the Scottish National Party (SNP).