Simon Read: Older people have most to fear from George Osborne

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The Independent Online

This year's Budget could prove to be the Coalition's biggest betrayal of older people yet. It's considering cutting universal pensioner benefits as a way to shrink the financial deficit.

Up until this week, ministers had pledged not to touch the benefits until after the next election. But the findings of a House of Lords inquiry suggest the review might happen much sooner. The Lords questioned why we still give pensioners the benefits, which include free public transport and TV licences for the over-75s, plus help with heating bills.

The report said: "Age is no longer a good indicator of people's needs or income, so the Government should review whether age alone is a sensible determinant for tax liability, access to services or benefits."

Meanwhile Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, has apparently been calling for wealthy pensioners to be forced to pay tax on their benefits.

The continuing pressure on benefits is causing older people to feel let down by the current Government. A survey by Stannah showed that more than two-thirds think that the Government is disconnected from their generation.

I think they're right to be worried.Mr Osborne appears to be planning to squeeze the elderly just as much as he has already squeezed middle income folk.

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