Most pensioners happy to have their benefits cut by Chancellor George Osborne
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Monday 24 June 2013
The majority of pensioners do not want special protection from the impact of public spending cuts, according to a ComRes survey for The Independent.
Amid an intense political debate over the future of the basic state-pension and perks such as the winter fuel allowance, the poll suggests that most people aged 65 and over are prepared to absorb some of the pain in the age of austerity.
The general public agrees by a margin of 49 per cent to 46 per cent with the statement that pensioners should “be no more immune to the impact of Government spending cuts than other members of society.” Surprisingly, 56 per cent of those aged 65 and over agree with this statement, more than any other age group, while 36 per cent disagree.
In contrast, the strongest support for protecting pensioners was among younger people. Some 42 per cent of 18-24 year-olds agree that pensioners should be no more immune from cuts than others, while 52 per cent disagree. Men (53 per cent) are more likely than women (46 per cent) to think that pensioners should not be more immune to cuts than other groups.
George Osborne, the Chancellor, who will unveil another £11.5bn of cuts tomorrow, is expected to confirm that pensioners’ benefits will be kept under review as the Government tries to keep down the long-term cost of welfare.
Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, said: “Pensioners are members of families and of course they understand how all age groups are being affected by the Government’s programme of cuts. But pensioners have not escaped the austerity measures. The winter fuel allowance has already been cut, pension increases have been reduced, bus routes and services have been withdrawn and social-care services are collapsing all over the country. The truth is that there is a move to divide the generations and start blaming each other for the financial crisis – when the real culprits are the bankers and the politicians that allowed them to operate without any real control.”
According to ComRes, Labour’s lead over the Conservatives has risen from four to six points since last month. The UK Independence Party has fallen back after receiving less publicity than it did at the May local elections, but is still ahead of the Liberal Democrats. Labour is now on 36 per cent (up two points), the Conservatives 30 per cent (unchanged), Ukip 14 per cent (down three points), the Lib Dems on 10 per cent (unchanged) and others 10 per cent (up one point). These figures would give Labour a majority of 74 on a uniform swing.
ComRes interviewed 1,000 adults by telephone between 21-23 June. Data was weighted to be representative of all adults in Great Britain. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
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