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Age related benefits under the spotlight and likely to remain so in the run up to the UK general election

by on November 25, 2014

Reports recently about the state of UK government spending have highlight once again issues of age-related benefits, particularly those that are not means (income) tested.

The Telegraph provides a comprehensive summary of the Institute for Fiscal Studies recent analysis of ‘what is happening on spending on social security’.  This highlights that “Combined spending on state pensions, pension credit, and universal pensioner benefits such as the winter fuel payment will be £5 billion higher in 2014–15 than in 2010–11”, recognizing that this is both due to an increase in the number of people of pension age and a rise in these benefits.

The Telegraph however state that the increase is a result of the fact that “David Cameron has targeted the “grey vote” with a series of tax breaks and payments, but this increase is likely to raise further concerns for the younger generation struggling with unemployment and housing problems.”

This is picked up in a subsequent report in the Telegraph that highlights the changing map of age related poverty, based on findings by the JRF which highlighted “a big rise in the proportion of adults under 25 in poverty, and a big fall among the over 75s”.

Of course all of these figures deserve to be given due attention and the issue of poverty and the wealth divide in the UK should be highlighted and discussed.  It seems rather odd however that a fall in poverty for the over 75’s is almost being presented as the ’cause’ of the rise in the under 25’s, though I am sure this is not what is intended (and the JRF report does indeed highlight the fall as welcome news).  Yet in the press coverage there is a danger of appearing to offset two often equally disadvantaged age groups against each other and of average figures hiding a wide disparity in wealth across all age groups.

 

 

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