Ahead of the Budget on Wednesday 11 March, Later Life Ambitions asked its members what they want to see from the new Government’s first budget. We were keen to understand what spending priorities, taxes, and cuts are most important to older people. With more than 1000 responses, some clear trends and beliefs have become apparent.
There will be many tough decisions for the Chancellor of the Exchequer as he delivers the first Budget since the country formally left the European Union. Whilst the Government face many significant issues, particularly the action on flooding defences and COVID-19, older people need to see action on issues like the social care crisis, a lack of suitable housing, and inadequate local transport.
Significantly, older people believe that overall Government expenditure should increase as a percentage of the economy (GDP). This indicates a desire to mark a clear end to austerity and ensure that public services are provided with the necessary funding. To finance this increased spending, a huge 68% of LLA members expressed support for increased taxation. More than three quarters of those said that income tax on the top rate of earners was the increase they would prefer. Our members were also widely supportive of corporation tax increases.
Image 1: what taxation should be increased?
In terms of spending priorities, perhaps unsurprisingly, the future funding of the NHS and investment in social care were the spending areas our members most strongly supported increasing investment in. Major infrastructure, public order, and education were also hugely popular. Additionally, in some good news for the Government, our members overwhelmingly (90%) expressed their support for plans to ‘level up’ the country by prioritising spending outside of London and the South East.
Image 2: The Prime Minister and the new Chancellor have both spoken about their plans to “level up” the country? Do you agree that more public spending should be prioritised in areas outside the south east?
65% of respondents also said they would be prepared to see spending reductions in some areas to allocate new funding to the issue most important to them. At 70%, cuts to international development funding were most popular, with cuts to social and affordable care, public order and safety, and the future funding of the NHS the least popular, at under 5% support. Finally, a number of our members were keen to highlight that delivering an effective response to the Coronavirus should now be the Government’s main focus. Many members highlighted that “responding to Coronavirus must be a priority for the Government. It’s a huge threat to older people”.
The Budget is a huge opportunity for the new Government to tackle some of the major challenges facing people up and down the country. Later Life Ambitions hope that they make the tough choices necessary to resolve this. We will analyse the Budget for what it means for older people and publish a blog to summarise this for LLA members.