Ageing Better responds to Autumn Statement 2022
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has unveiled his Autumn Statement, detailing the restoration of the triple lock and the extension of the energy price guarantee.
Our chief executive, Dr Carole Easton, responds to the announcement which also includes news of a DWP review into the rise in numbers of economically inactive since the pandemic – which are predominately older workers.
Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said:
“The Centre for Ageing Better welcomes the Chancellor’s decision to reinstate the triple lock guarantee. We have one of the lowest state pensions in the developed world and almost one in five pensioners were living in poverty even before the cost-of-living crisis.
“Its restoration does not just benefit today’s retirees, the commitment to the triple lock will represent much larger increases over time for workers collecting their pensions in years and decades to come. But the endless weeks of speculation on whether the government’s promise was to be upheld has undoubtedly caused older people increased uncertainty, stress, anxiety and impacted health and wellbeing. Going forward, we need much greater certainty that the lock is a long-term commitment and not just a political football to be kicked around every few months.
“We welcome the news that the government is extending its energy price support for an additional 12 months and increasing the level of targeted support for pensioners. We also appreciate the government highlighting energy efficiency as a national priority but the measures announced by the Chancellor do not go far enough or fast enough.
“We urgently need a national retrofit programme to make homes warmer, safer and more energy efficient as part of a broader move to improve people’s homes. This should be supported by a network of local ‘one stop shops' for home improvement advice, access to finance and practical support across the country.
“We are pleased to see the Chancellor confirm working age benefits will rise with inflation. A failure to do this would have likely led to further widening of the already sizeable gap between working age and pension benefits, potentially creating further rises in poverty among older people on the cusp of state pension age who are unable to work, or find work.
“The government is right also to address the worrying post-pandemic rise in economic inactivity, with 50-64 year olds making up more than 90% of the total rise in inactivity between 2019 and 2022. This creates skills shortages, limits economic growth, and increases the likelihood that many people will face financial insecurity in later life.
“The announcement of a thorough review of workforce participation by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is welcome but is likely to only go some way to addressing the complex factors driving older workers to leave employment. We know that current back-to-work support is inaccessible or unappealing to too many older workers – and does not sufficiently meet their needs. To adequately address this fundamental issue for the UK economy, and ensure we have policies that work for our ageing population, we need a cross-government ageing society strategy.”