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Age Concern Hampshire has welcomed positive Budget plans for elderly people
ELDERLY people are likely to feel the benefit from yesterday’s Budget, according to experts.
Rick Smith, chief executive of Age Concern Hampshire, said he said there were many positives for elderly people, but felt it was politically motivated to satisfy older voters ahead of the next General Election.
But he welcomed measures encouraging people to save for the future.
Another positive for Mr Smith was the move towards a single tier pension system without means testing, meaning everyone would get the same regardless of how much they saved.
Although there would be winners and losers, he said many people were not keen to apply for funding and have their finances scrutinised and were missing out on money they were entitled to.
Mr Smith also said tax relief for social impact bonds was exciting as this encouraged investors to put money in upfront towards major changes in the way health and social care is delivered that would eventually be paid back by the local authority.
He said such investment could help prevent conditions becoming more serious saving councils money.
Another important step was the scrapping of compulsory annuities allowing people to spend their pension money how they liked.
However, Mr Smith said further cuts for each Government department would however inevitably affect older people the most because they statistically relied on so many of them.
He added that plans to half bingo duty to ten per cent might not affect as many pensioners as people might think as many enjoyed more active hobbies.
“Many of our over-50s would rather be belly dancing than playing bingo,” he added.
Don Harper, secretary of the Southampton Pensioners Forum, said he would have liked to have seen something more to help those above the benefits level, such as money off VAT on fuel or more to cut gas and electricity bills, but welcomed changes to annuities.
“We can’t be greedy, we have got to be thankful he did give something to pensioners and especially those coming up to getting their pension in the way they can take their pension,” he said.
Meanwhile environmental campaigners criticised George Osborne for backing down on measures to make businesses go green.
Ray Cobbett, spokesperson for Hampshire Friends of the Earth, said the budget moved away from carbon taxes on manufacturers and “sent out the wrong signal”.
He pointed to the pledge by the chancellor of £1 billion to protect manufacturers from the cost of green levies and said this was not the time to make it cheaper for industries producing carbon.
“I’d like to see more measures to encourage more renewable energy investment – there’s nothing in the budget that said that,” he said.
“The message is that being green is pushing costs up when in fact it’s making sure we have tomorrow to live through.”
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