Pensioners across the UK will suffer hardest from the Tory-led coalition government’s axe to social security benefits, say the TUC ahead of the publication of a shocking new report later this week.
Older people in the UK will suffer from social security cuts worth £6.3 billion a year, by the time government’s welfare cuts have taken full effect, say the TUC, and this figure is set to soar to nearly £9 billion.
The TUC say this is evidence that the Tory-led coalition government has “broken its promise” to protect pensioner benefits.
Analysis on the impact of welfare reform on pensioner families, undertaken by Howard Reed of Landman Economics on behalf of the TUC, shows that a quarter of all social security cuts fall upon single pensioners and couples, where one adult is of state pension age while the other is below state pension age but not in paid work.
One of biggest hits to pensioner benefits comes from changes to how benefits are ‘uprated’. Measures introduced by George Osborne in June 2010 changed the way benefits are increased annually, from RPI inflation to the lower CPI measure.
The hardest hit comes from the reduction in the value of Pension Credit. The reduction will see pensioner families lose £3.85bn a year by 2016/17, including cuts to the ‘Savings Credit’ element of Pension Credit.
Other cuts include a £138 million ‘annual reduction’ in the value of Attendance Allowance and a £340 million annual cut to pensioners disability benefits.
The introduction of Universal Credit will see people in their mid-60’s turned into “so-called workshy scroungers”, say the TUC, because they won’t be able to claim Pension Credit. They will instead have to claim “less generous” working age benefits.
According to the TUC, the situation faced by pensioners will only get worse after the 2015 general election. Projected government savings of £5bn a year through the implementation of Universal Credit will fall disproportionately on pensioner families, say the TUC. This will increase the total loss of income inflicted upon older people in the UK to as much as £8.75 billion a year.
TUC are calling on the government to “come clean on the full impact of the social security cuts it’s making”.
They are also demanding that the Tory-led coalition “reverse its stealth cut to the uprating of benefits” and “workplace pensions”.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“The government want people to think that their welfare reforms have targeted so-called scroungers, while pensioners have been spared the pain. After all, the Prime Minister pledged to protect pensioner benefits during the last general election campaign. The reality, however, is very different.
“Pensioner families have had been hit hard by the Chancellor’s social security axe with their incomes set to be slashed by over £6bn a year.
“For many pensioners the worst is yet to come. Universal Credit will make unemployed men and women in their mid-60s the new workshy scroungers – unable to claim Pension Credit and suddenly subject to the government’s sanctions regime.
“Poor pensioners with no private income will also lose out as a result of the Chancellor’s stealth cut in the uprating of vital benefits such as the state pension.
“The government’s welfare reforms are undermining the extra support we need when we have children or retire, and the safety net we rely upon if we lose our job or become ill. It is time to stand up for the social security system that we all pay into and will all need at some point in our lives.”