“A million pensioners in poverty because of unclaimed benefits”

These are not benefits – they are entitlements.

“More than a million pensioner households across the UK are living in poverty because of the government’s failure to act on unpaid pension credit, according to the older people’s charity Independent Age.

Almost 2 million people aged 65 and over are living in poverty in the UK. Pension credit is the income-related benefit specifically designed to lift them out of poverty. But it is estimated that four in 10 pensioner households who are entitled to the help do not receive it.

Since the 2017 general election, the government has “benefited” from £7bn in unclaimed pension credit, the charity said. This figure will increase to more than £17bn by 2022.

“The recent decision to limit the TV licence to only those who receive pension credit adds insult to injury to over a million pensioners who between them, due to government inaction, are missing out on a staggering £10m every day that should be in their pockets,” said George McNamara, the charity’s director of policy and influencing. …

Pensioners entitled to the benefit are missing out on an average of £49 a week, just under the average amount that the poorest fifth of pensioner couples spend on food and non-alcoholic drinks in a week. It can, said McNamara, make the difference between being isolated at home or being able to take part in social activities. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/26/a-million-pensioners-in-poverty-because-of-unclaimed-benefits?

Rural broadband still a dream for many – and will remain one

Shelve that dream of running an internet-based company in many parts of rural East Devon.

“The company awarded the publicly-subsidised contract to deliver superfast broadband to thousands of rural homes in Devon and Somerset has been given a deadline to come up with a rescue plan for the programme.

Last September, Gigaclear admitted the project was facing significant delays and was two years behind schedule.

Connecting Devon and Somerset, the organisation in charge of the whole project, stopped paying Gigaclear nine months ago.

It has told the firm it must come up with acceptable plans by the end of July to fulfill the contract.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-48664146

“Britons between 18 and 29 have less left over after housing costs than older generations had at same age”

“In an inaugural national audit of intergenerational spending power, which is likely to reignite tensions between young and old, the Resolution Foundation thinktank concludes that today’s 18- to 29-year-olds are also spending less on shoes and clothes, hobbies and travel in real terms than those at the same age in 2001 as housing costs have soared. Compared with people the same age at the turn of the millennium they are 7% poorer in real terms, after paying rent, or if they can afford it, mortgage dues.

Meanwhile, in a story that will be familiar to the rising millions of twentysomethings who can’t afford to move out from their parents home, baby boomers have cranked up their spending on fun, laying out more on recreation, restaurants, hotels and culture, as people aged 65 and over have enjoyed a steep 37% rise in spending power compared with the same generation in 2001.

The audit is published by the Resolution Foundation’s new Intergenerational Centre, which is led by the former science minister David Willetts, and it said the findings debunked “the idea that young people are devoting growing pots [of money] to eating in restaurants and cafés (be that those that serve avocado on toast or others) or flying abroad”.

The proportion the young spent on fuel and groceries was up two percentage points while their spending on recreation and culture was down two points, the share spend on restaurants and hotels was down one point and clothing and shoes down two points. The 65s and over spent three percentage points less on groceries, two percentage points more on restaurants and hotels and three percentage points more on recreation and culture.

“The clear picture in terms of day-to-day living standards as measured through household consumption is of generational progress for older generations, and generational decline for younger ones,” the report said.

A spokesman for Generation Rent, which represents young people who have been priced out of homeownership, said in response to the report that “resentment is growing” and the founder of the Intergenerational Foundation, which promotes the interests of younger generations, accused older people of “breaking the social contract”.

Far from wasting potential housing deposits on fripperies, as suggested in 2017 by one millionaire property developer, millennials have been obliged to allocate a greater proportion of any money left over after housing costs to groceries, utilities and education. In 2018 they spent £380 a week on non-housing items on average – 7% less in real terms than they would have done at the turn of the century, analysis of official figures showed. At the same time the spending of people aged 50-64 rose 11% to £460, and pensioner spending rose to £390 a week.

The audit also assesses sharp increases in housing costs, cuts to in-work benefits, stagnant pay since the financial 2008 financial crisis and widening gaps in absolute wealth between young and old as key factors in one of the biggest social changes of this era.

Half a million more twentysomethings are living at home than would have been the case if the pre-crisis trend had not been disrupted, the report found. In 2007, half of 21- to 24-year-olds lived with their parents but by 2018 this had risen to 60%. The increase for those in their late twenties was even greater, up a third from 24% to 32%. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2019/jun/20/young-adults-have-less-to-spend-on-non-essentials-study-says?

Top two Tory PM candidates are private landlords

” … Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid (ousted from contest), and Jeremy Hunt – are moonlighting as landlords, and it shows.

We’ve now had two televised debates and housing has barely had a look in. While the outgoing Prime Minister has said she considers “solving the housing crisis is the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation”, the candidates to replace her seem unphased by it. …

There has been no mention of social housing, nobody has outlined their plan for Generation Rent, one in three of whom will be renting from cradle to grave, and our growing population of pensioner renters has received zero mentions. Listening to them, you would be forgiven for thinking house prices and rents weren’t rising faster than wages. …

Housing inequality certainly played a part in Brexit and, as Conservative think tank Onward highlighted in 2018, by the time of the next election, there will be 253 constituencies where more than 20 per cent of voters are renters. That’s an increase from just 18 at the 2001 election. And they are not voting Tory.

Coming up with a comprehensive strategy for the housing crisis and set of policies to back it up would take time but, at the very least, it would be good to see the social catastrophe that is unaffordable housing acknowledged by the men who want to be the next Prime Minister. …”

At least three of the Tory leadership contenders are moonlighting as landlords, and it shows

“Weak pay rises and dearer housing fuel jump in working poor, says IFS”

“Britain has seen a big jump in the working poor since the 1990s, with almost three out of five people below the official poverty line living in a household where at least one person is working.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies found that a drop in the number of workless households, better-off pensioners and higher rents had resulted in 8 million in poverty from working households.

The thinktank said that between 1994 and 2017 the share of poverty accounted for by working households had jumped from 37% to 58%.

The in-work poor were living in relative poverty because they were living on less than 60% of median income. The IFS said the less well-off had been financially hit by more expensive housing and by weak earnings growth, but were still better off than they would have been had they been unemployed. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/19/weak-pay-rises-and-dearer-housing-fuel-jump-in-working-poor-says-ifs?

Rents to be frozen for 5 years in overheated Berlin

“Berlin’s left-wing government has approved a plan to freeze rents in the German capital for the next five years.

Rents have risen sharply in the city and there have been rallies urging the authorities to keep housing affordable.

The plan is expected to become law in January. It could apply to 1.4 million properties, but not to social housing – regulated separately – or new builds.

The average monthly rent for a furnished Berlin flat is about €1,100 (£983; $1,232). …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-48677393