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Government responds to the Intergenerational Fairness Committee

Government responds to the Intergenerational Fairness Committee

The Government has rejected many of the policy recommendations made in a report by a cross-party committee of Lords who focus on tackling intergenerational unfairness. The Committee set out a raft of policies aimed at “retaining the supportive relationship between generations and taking a long-term policy approach”, some of which Later Life Ambitions (LLA) are concerned would have a negative impact on the well-being and security of older people across the UK.  

LLA recognise that older people are amongst some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society, and we are concerned that some of the report’s recommendations would exacerbate this. We are pleased that the Government has similarly rejected a number of damaging policy recommendations promoted by the Committee, which include the following:

  • Removing the triple lock for State Pensions and instead uprate the State Pension in line with average earnings.
  • Free bus passes and Winter Fuel Payment only being available five years after a person becomes eligible for the State Pension.
  • Better off workers over the State Pension age should pay National Insurance while they continue to work.

The Government said that they are committed to the Triple Lock and ensuring the economic security for people at every stage of their life. Additionally, the Government took a commendable position by rejecting the introduction of National Insurance contributions to older workers. LLA agrees that moves to do so are deeply unfair on older people who have contributed towards their retirement benefits for their entire working lives.

The Committee’s report supports the “phasing out of free TV licences based on age.” This is of particular concern to LLA, as we have actively campaigned to protect the free TV licence concession for over-75s. We believe that it is grossly unfair that the future funding of the concession has been pushed on to the BBC.  The BBC is an unelected body and should not be expected to make crucial decisions about a benefit that thousands of older people rely on.  Removing the concession will disadvantage many older people who suffer disproportionately from loneliness and social isolation.

LLA would like the Government to uphold their 2017 manifesto commitment to maintain this benefit. Any of the new proposals would be harmful to some of the most vulnerable in society. Spending decisions are the responsibility of the Government. Burdening the BBC, an unelected body, with the cost of this crucial benefit is an unprecedented and dangerous move.

We actively influenced the development of the Lords’ report from its inception, meeting with key members of the Committee and submitting written evidence based on our members’ views and experiences. It is important to recognise that though there are aspects of the report that we remain concerned about, some recommendations have been embraced by Government and should be used to inform the new policy.

Recommendations on training and employment offer a series of reasoned and beneficial suggestions that are recognised as such by the Government. The report recommended the following:

  • Substantially increase funding for Further Education and vocational training to tackle unfairness between those to go onto Higher Education and those who do not.
  • Improve the working conditions of younger people through law, so that they are protected from exploitation or insecurity in the gig economy.
  • Increase lifelong learning and training. In the context of a 100-year life, continuous training and retraining will become more important. Older people need to be equipped and supported to respond to a changing labour market.

The Government has said that they “widely agree with the Committee that more needs to be done to equip older people with skills to participate in the workforce in the long-term”. Improving working conditions for older people is a key campaigning objective for LLA and we welcome the Government’s commitment to this, though we are keen to see further details of their strategy for achieving this.

The Government also outlined their support for improving the quality of work that younger people are involved in. LLA recognise that the UK labour market presents challenges that transcend generations. There is a lack of security for younger generations and unfair barriers to accessing employment for older workers. Consequently, attempts to improve the labour market should not focus solely on the experiences of one generation, as this will fail to resolve other systemic problems. It may also serve to exacerbate divisions between generations. Improving access to positions, ensuring decent pay, and strengthening the security of employment are all necessary for all generations to prosper in the workplace.

Overall, Later Life Ambitions welcomes that the Government has widely rejected the recommendations of the Lords Intergenerational Fairness Committee’s report. There is significant cross-over in terms of the Government’s rejection of policies which are considered to be damaging to older people and LLA’s own reservations about policies which we see as not being in the interests of our members and older people across the UK.

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