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British politicians suggest to scrap pensioner benefits to rebalance society

Published : 26 Apr 2019, 00:27

  DF-Xinhua Report

Visit Finland file photo.

A committee of House of Lords politicians said Thursday that benefits given to over 65s should be replaced with support for younger generations to deliver a fairer society.

According to the Intergenerational Fairness and Provision Committee, many pensioner households in Britain are now, on average, better off than their working age counterparts, both in terms of income after housing costs and overall household wealth, while young people were getting a raw deal in many areas.

The recommendation issued by the committee suggested an end to free bus travel and winter-fuel allowances for older people as well as the scrapping of television licences for the over 75s.

A triple-lock arrangement that has seen old-age pensions rise annually over inflation would also disappear, and older people who continue to work after the state retirement age would have to pay national insurance on their earnings.

Lord True, chairman of the committee, 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."

The report has called on the 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.

The Centrer for Ageing Better warned against tinkering with existing benefits, saying pensioner poverty was increasing for the first time in a decade.

The national charity Age UK warned nearly a million older people in Britain were just one big bill away from financial disaster. It said government figures showed pensioner poverty numbers have increased, with two million pensioners now living in poverty and nearly a million saying they would be unable to pay an unexpected bill of 200 pounds.

Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said: "Young people may well need more help but we disagree that this should be at the expense of the older generation because this both underplays the extent of need among older people, and skates over the great difficulty of ensuring a targeted approach reaches those older people who are the most vulnerable."