Reacting to today’s King’s Speech, Joanna Elson CBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age said:
“With more than two million older people living in poverty and at least another million living on the edge, systemic change is needed, and unfortunately, the government didn’t reveal anything in today’s King Speech that will tackle the injustice of pensioner poverty, which has been gradually rising for a decade.
“Inflation is still extremely high and causing misery for people on low incomes in later life up and down the country. Our helpline receives regular calls from frightened older people making desperate cutbacks just to get by. We have heard harrowing stories of people sitting in the dark or washing less to save money, one person even resorted to eating dog food because it’s less costly. As older people in financial hardship brace for another tough winter, the UK government has failed to recognise their plight by not setting out how it will tackle stubbornly high costs into next year and beyond.
“Some relief will be felt today by older private renters, as the Government has committed to progressing the Renters Reform Bill. This should provide this growing group of older people with much needed security and protection. It’s vital that a ban on Section 21 evictions is included in this bill and implemented quickly, as there are currently thousands of older people at risk of homelessness because of this cruel law. The UK government must urgently act and pass this bill.
“We also want to see the Government protect the long-term needs of current and future older people by creating a Commissioner for Older People and Ageing. This champion could amplify the voices of people in later life and ensure their rights and needs are taken into account by the government. Today would have also been the right time to announce plans to introduce a single energy social tariff. Older people living on low to modest incomes must be protected in the long term from future hikes in energy prices.”