Ed Miliband will today move to reassure Britain’s 11 million pensioners that Labour would not launch a further raid on their winter fuel payments and free bus passes and TV licences.
The Labour leader will reject suggestions that he is stoking generational divisions before the May election by targeting young adults while the Tories woo the “grey vote”.
David Cameron has promised that all pensioners would keep the three perks as long as he remains Prime Minister, and Labour has pledged to cut university tuition fees by reducing tax relief on pension contributions by £2.7bn.
Labour has already promised to scrap winter fuel allowances for pensioners who pay the 40p rate of income tax. This fuelled speculation – and claims by Conservative candidates – that the party would cut other benefits to wealthy pensioners.
Speaking in Redcar today, Mr Miliband will announce that Labour would make no further changes to fuel allowances, bus passes or TV licences on top of ending the fuel payments to the richest 5 per cent of pensioners with an income of £42,000 a year.
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
1/6 Settled Silvers
These are the comfortably-off over-60s, still in work or drawing a decent pension – or both – who are enjoying their entitlements such as the Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes and free TV licence. They are worried about immigration and Europe. Both the Conservatives – who are pledging to keep benefits for wealthier pensioners – and Ukip want their votes
2/6 Squeezed Semis
Slightly older than the Harassed Hipsters, they are the second key group for Labour’s family-focused election strategy. They are married couples on low to middle incomes who own unpretentious semi-detached homes in suburban areas. In 2001, these were the Pebbledash People sought by the Conservatives. Now the pebbledash is gone and a modest conservatory has been built at the back
3/6 Aldi Woman
In 1997 and 2001 she was Worcester Woman – a middle-class Middle Englander shopping at Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Today, the age of austerity means she still goes to Waitrose for her basic food shop but cannily switches to Aldi for her luxury bargains such as Parma ham and prosecco. Identified by Caroline Flint, she is a key target of both Labour and the Conservatives
4/6 Glass Ceiling Woman
In her thirties or forties, she has an established career under her belt, perhaps in the “marzipan layer” – one position below the still male-dominated senior executive level. She is now, according to Nick Clegg, forced into making the “heart-breaking choice” between staying at home to bring up her children and going to work and forking out for high-cost, round-the-clock childcare
5/6 Harassed Hipsters
One of the two key groups identified by Labour as crucial to hand Ed Miliband the keys to Downing Street. Well-paid professional couples, often with children, they live in diverse urban and metropolitan areas rather than the suburbs. More comfortably off than most swing voters, they are time poor – struggling to balance raising a young family with busy work schedules
These are mainly first-time voters, though some are in their twenties – students and digital-age generation renters helping to fuel the “Green Surge”. Idealists, but with no tribal loyalty to any party, they are anti-austerity, middle class, living in urban areas. Despite studying at university or recently graduated, they are struggling to find decent jobs and want cheaper housing and a higher minimum wage
“That is the only change we are planning in the system,” he will say. “Because even in these tough times when the deficit must be cleared, Labour knows the importance of ensuring those who have worked all their lives can retire with dignity.” He will add: “This is a big commitment but it is one that I am making today because doing right by older people is the right thing to do.”
Mr Miliband will make a new pledge to protect people who take advantage of the new freedom from next month to draw money out of their pension pots rather than have to buy an annuity.
A Labour government would cap fees and charges to prevent “rip-offs”. A cap of 0.5 per cent for someone drawing down £2,000 a year from a £36,000 pension pot would leave them £10,500 better off than if they faced charges of 2.75 per cent.Mr Miliband will promise to make sure that “when people draw money out of their hard-earned pension pot, they have similar protections as they do when they put money in”.
He will reiterate Labour’s commitment to the Coalition government’s “triple lock”, under which the basic state pension rises each year by earnings, inflation or 2.5 per cent – whichever is higher. He will also say that Labour would end the “scandal” of 15-minute home visits by care workers and recruit 5,000 new carers.
Claiming that Mr Cameron cannot be trusted to keep his promises, Mr Miliband will say: “This is a better plan for older people. The next Labour government will protect pensioners’ incomes, safeguard retirement savings, keep homes warm and improve care for those who are frail or vulnerable.”
Labour officials admit there is growing “inter-generational poverty” as young adults risk being worse off than their parents. But they insist the party is not funding its tuition-fees cut bytargeting pensioners, saying the reduction in tax relief will affect high earners in work.Reuse content