Press release 10th January 2017
The Work and Pensions Select Committee has published a new report on Intergenerational Fairness. Later Life Ambitions is particularly pleased that the committee has taken the evidence we submitted into account, saying on page 38 “Age UK and Later Life Ambitions, a campaigning group, warned that many pensioner households on low incomes might not apply for a means tested WFP. Around one third of households entitled to mean tested Pension Credit do not claim it.” And on page 43 “Later Life Ambitions told us: No two generations have the same experience–technology, the vagaries of history, changing economic circumstances all shape a generation’s experience. Nobody would advocate rationing for today’s children because it would only be fair to those who were children during the Second World War any more than they would suggest students who enjoyed grants in the 1960s return them to the state as a courtesy to young people paying student fees.”
However, we strongly disagree with the Committee’s recommendation to scrap the triple lock guarantee for pensions. We do not believe that removing the triple lock guarantee would ease the current situation for young people. Frank Field MP, the chair of the committee, said “Home ownership, taken as a given by many in my generation, is out of reach for too many aspiring young people today … at the same time as tightening their belts, they are being asked to support a group that has fared relatively well in recent years.” However, the older generation is not responsible for younger generations being unable to buy homes, this is down to the lack of affordable housing being built nor are all pensioners well off.
The triple lock is a guarantee to increase the state pensions, every year by the higher of inflation, average earnings or a minimum of 2.5% and was introduced to make sure that pensioner income was not eroded by the gradual increase in the costs of living. The Work and Pensions Select Committee said that continuing with it was “unsustainable” and “unfair” on younger families. They think it would be better if the new state pension and basic state pensions were linked to average earnings with a formula included to protect pensioners during periods where earnings lag behind inflation. Many pensioners still need the triple lock guarantee to ensure that their standard of living is safeguarded and we are worried that these changes would not be enough to do so.
We agree with Steve Webb, former Pensions Minister who commented on the report saying that the triple lock was created to reverse “30 years of decline in the value of the state pension” and “that job is not yet done. The UK still has one of the lowest state pensions in Europe.” We would therefore call on the Government to reject these recommendations and for all political parties to maintain the commitment to the triple lock.
Later Life Ambitions is committed to addressing intergenerational fairness, but we feel that removing the triple lock guarantee will do very little to benefit the younger generations but instead have a huge impact on pensioners. Instead we would call on the Government and all political parties to look at building more affordable homes and looking at ways to increase wages and employment which will help to benefit every generation.
LATER LIFE AMBITIONS WEBSITE LAUNCHED
Later Life Ambitions brings together the collective voices of over a quarter of a million pensioners through the National Association of Retired Police Officers [NARPO], The National Federation of Occupational Pensioners [NFOP]and the Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance [CSPA].
The campaign seeks to make a difference to older peoples lives by campaigning for change.
The campaign will focus on:
• Three key ‘proactive’ issues
o Social care: top line: LLA seeks a cross-party solution that guarantees funding for proper social care for older people and takes social care out of electoral cycle
o Pensions: top line: LLA seeks a clear, accessible, single state pension system for all
o Housing: top line: LLA seeks a renewed focus on housing for older people and a national strategy on encouraging specialist later life housing
• ‘Reactive’ issues
o Transport: decent bus services important for older people and this should be debated as part of the Buses Bill, also issue of using the bus pass a senior railcard
o Online fraud: Connect to monitor Home Office task force and respond where appropriate
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne has presented the Budget to Parliament.
Of interest during his speech, George Osborne announced that the Government is on course for a Budget surplus by 2020 and made a number of new policy announcements including the introduction of a ‘Sugar Tax’ for the soft drinks industry. The threshold at which people pay 40% tax will also rise from £42,385 to £45,000 in April 2017 and the tax-free personal allowance is set to rise to £11,500 in April 2017.
He said that GDP growth has been revised down to 2% next year, 2.2% in 2017 and then 2.1% in 2018, 2019 and 2020. These figures are predicated on the UK remaining in the EU. The OBR has revised down potential UK productivity growth due to slower growth in global markets. The OBR forecasts lower inflation, 0.7% this year, down from the 1% predicted in October 2015. The inflation target for the Bank of England is 2%. Public spending has been reduced from 45% of GDP in 2010 to 40%, and is due to hit 36.9% of GDP by end of the decade.
The Government intends to make additional savings equivalent to 0.5% of total government spending. This will mean finding a further £3.5 billion of savings from public spending in 2019-20. Spending as a share of GDP will fall to 36.9% by 2020. The Government will conduct a departmental efficiency review to help deliver these savings.
The Budget contains the following policies of interest:
• To help the next generation to clearly view their pensions savings, the government will ensure the industry designs, funds and launches a pensions dashboard by 2019.
• The government has reviewed the discount rate used to set employer contributions to the unfunded public service pension schemes. The discount rate is being set at 2.8% and employers will pay higher contributions to the schemes from 2019-20 as a result.
• The government will consolidate pension flexibilities to ensure that these are working as intended, including by:
o Re-aligning the tax treatment of serious ill-health lump sums with lump sum death benefits, so that they can be paid tax-free (when the provider is content to do so) when someone aged under 75 has less than a year to live but has already accessed their pension
o Making serious ill health lump sums taxable at an individual’s marginal rate when paid in respect of individuals aged 75 and over
o Legislating to convert dependants’ flexi-access drawdown accounts to nominees’ accounts when dependants turn 23, so they do not have to take their funds as a lump sum taxed at 45%
o Legislating to allow defined contribution pensions already in payment to be paid as a trivial commutation lump sum, where total pension savings would be under £30,000
o Making top ups to fund dependants’ death benefits authorised payments
o Removing unnecessary legislation relating to charity lump sum death benefits
• Local Government Pension Scheme: British Wealth Funds – The government will support proposals by local administering authorities to establish both a small number of British Wealth Funds by combining Local Government Pension Scheme assets into much larger investment pools by 2018 and a national Local Government infrastructure investment platform.
• Following the informal consultation announced at Autumn Statement the government will keep Unfunded Employment Retirement Benefit Schemes under review.
• The government has published a summary of responses to the consultation Strengthening the incentive to save: a consultation on pensions tax relief.
• As announced at Budget 2015, the Lifetime Allowance will reduce from £1.25 million to £1 million, effective from April 2016.
• As announced at Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015, the government will legislate to ensure a charge to inheritance tax will not arise when a pension scheme member designates funds for drawdown but does not draw all of the funds before death. This will be backdated to apply to deaths on or after 6 April 2011
• The government will:
o Consult on introducing a single clear definition of financial advice to remove regulatory uncertainty and ensure that firms can offer consumers the help they need
o Legislate to increase the tax and NICs relief available for employer-arranged pensions advice from £150 to £500. The new exemption will ensure that the first £500 of any advice received is eligible for the relief. It will be available from April 2017.
o Consult on introducing a Pensions Advice Allowance. This will allow people before the age of 55 to withdraw up to £500 tax free from their defined contribution pension to redeem against the cost of financial advice. The exact age at which people can do this will be determined through consultation. This means that a basic rate taxpayer could save £100 on the cost of financial advice.
• The government will restructure the statutory financial guidance providers – the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise – to ensure that consumers can access the help they need to make effective financial decisions. The new delivery model will direct more funding to the front line and focus support on areas of greatest consumer need. It will include:
o a new pensions guidance body, to make sure that consumers can get all their pensions questions answered in one place, at all stages of their lives
o a new, slimmed down money guidance body charged with identify gaps in the financial guidance market and commissioning providers to fill these gaps to ensure that consumers can access the debt advice and money guidance they need
• Increase in ISA limit to £20,000
• Introduction of a new flexible Lifetime ISA for under 40s in which people can save up to £4,000 each year and receive an additional 25% bonus from government. Savings, including the government bonus, can be accessed to buy a first home and in retirement.
• Following agreement of the fiscal framework with the Scottish Government, the government will legislate to separate the income tax rates that apply to savings (the savings rates), from those that apply to non-savings, non-dividends income (the main rates). The former will apply across the UK and the latter will be devolved to Scotland from April 2017.
• Personal tax allowance will be £11,500 from 2017-18 and the higher rate tax threshold will increase to £45,000 to 2017-18
• Fuel duty will be frozen at 57.95p per litre for 2016-17
Health and Social Care
• Public sector spending on health for 2016-17 will be £145bn.
• The Government will publish a White Paper focusing on the roles that the health, care and welfare sectors can play in supporting disabled people and those with health conditions to get into and stay in work.
• Spending on the disability budget will rise in real terms. However, as announced previously by Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, the Government will:
o Change the way that entitlement to Personal Independence Payment is determined – a reduction in the number of assessment points awarded for needing to use an aid or appliance to carry out two of the ‘daily living’ activities assessed. This will take effect for new cases and re-assessments from January 2017.
o Alter the arrangements for terminally ill claimants migrating from DLA to PIP – this change means that those claimants who are granted a greater award under PIP will get that higher award from the date of the decision, rather than remaining on their DLA award for the standard four week waiting period
o Consider the case for long-term reform of disability benefits and services that is fair for the taxpayer and for those with disabilities or health conditions
• From Autumn 2016, the government will introduce exemptions for recipients of Guardians Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and the carers element of Universal Credit from the household benefit cap, which caps the amount of benefits out-of-work working-age families can receive at £20,000, and at £23,000 in Greater London.
MIDDLE-AGED VOTERS FEAR POLITICIANS ARE IGNORING CARE CRISIS
Nearly seven million middle-aged voters cite the UK’s crisis-hit care system as their number one worry as they head into old age. In a survey set to worry both David Cameron and Ed Miliband in the run-up to May’s general election, 12.2 million over-50s feel political parties do not value the contribution of older people or reflect their views.
To see the full article use this link: POLITICIANS IGNORE VOTERS
LATER LIFE AMBITIONS WEBSITE LAUNCHED
Later Life Ambitions brings together the collective voices of over a quarter of a million pensioners through the National Association of Retired Police Officers, The National Federation of Occupational Pensioners and the Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance.
To view the website use this link: Later Life Ambitions