Cut pensioner benefits to improve fairness, says Lords committee

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Pensioner benefits for over-75’s should be cut or axed to help restore fairness in the system between older and younger people, the House of Lords Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision has said today (Thursday).

The Committee argues that social security payments and passported benefits are no longer required because the issue of pensioner poverty has been all but resolved.

Peers have called on the UK Government “to take steps to deliver a fairer society by supporting younger people in the housing and employment market, and deliver better in-work training and lifelong learning to prepare the country for the coming 100-year lifespan”.

They argue that in order to improve intergenerational fairness the Government should revisit policies like the State Pension Triple Lock and free TV licences for the over 75’s.

Recommendations in the Commitee’s report include:

  • Remove the triple lock for State Pensions and instead uprate the State Pension in line with average earnings.
  • Phase out free TV licences based on age. The Government should then decide if it wants to subsidise TV licences based on household income.
  • Free bus passes and Winter Fuel Payment should only be available five years after a person becomes eligible for the State Pension.
  • Better off workers over the State Pension age should pay National Insurance while they continue to work.

The report also says that Ministers should “increase funding for Further Education and vocational training to tackle unfairness between those to go onto Higher Education and those who do not”.

“There should be an assumption of the employment status of ‘worker’ by default to protect young people from exploitation or insecurity in the gig economy, while allowing those who wish to stay as self-employed to do so”, the Committee says.

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The Government should also: “Increase lifelong learning and training. In the context of a 100-year life, continuous training and retraining will become more important.”

“Older people need to be equipped and supported to respond to a changing labour market”, the report argues.

Other recommendations include:

  • The Government should introduce new fiscal rule that addresses the whole Government balance sheet as well as the current deficit.
  • The Office of National Statistics should introduce a generational breakdown of the Effects of Tax and Benefits on Household income dataset.
  • The Treasury should publish a breakdown of the effects of each budget by generation and Government should create Intergenerational Impact Assessments for all draft legislation.

The Chair of the Committee, Lord True, said: “We found that intergenerational bonds are still strong, and the evidence suggested both young and older people recognise the contribution the other makes and the challenges they face.

“However, there is a risk that those connections could be undermined if the Government does not get a grip on key issues such as access to housing, secure employment and fairness in tax and benefits.”