“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?

“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?

“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?

“2.4 Million Britons In Poverty Despite Having Jobs”

“An estimated 2.4m working people were in poverty in 2017, of which 31% also experienced in-work poverty in 2016, new data has shown.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also revealed that a third of people cannot face unexpected expenses, while 23.7% cannot afford a one-week annual holiday.

However, persistent poverty rates in the UK in 2017 are comparable to levels in 2008, equivalent to roughly 4.7 million people, or 7.8% of the population.

Peter Briffett, co-founder and CEO of the income streaming app, Wagestream, which campaigns against payday poverty, said: “For nearly five million people in the UK to be living in persistent poverty is a damning indictment of the state we’re in.

“It’s the 21st Century and yet for far too many households life is borderline Dickensian.

“High inflation and negligible wage growth will have accentuated persistent poverty in recent years, although some will invariably point the finger at austerity measures.

“Hopefully strengthening wage growth and inflation returning to target will be helping more people out of persistent poverty.

“For many people, the knock-on effect of persistent poverty is recourse to high cost credit simply to keep their heads above water and this only makes matters worse. The result is a cycle of debt from which it is near impossible to break free …”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/24-million-people-in-the-uk-are-in-poverty-despite-having-jobs_uk_5cf8c5bee4b0638bdfa4b29d?

Women cheated out of their pensions have no right to fairness says government lawyer

“Nearly 4 million women who lost up to £47,000 each when their retirement age was increased from 60 to 66 have no right to expect fairness from the government, according to a lawyer representing the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

On the second day of a judicial review at the high court brought by the campaign group Back to 60, many of whose members received little or no notice that their pension age had been changed, Sir James Eadie QC also argued that the group had no right to expect either notification of the changes or legal remedy to soften its impact.

“Parliament has no substantive, freestanding obligation of fairness,” Eadie told a courtroom so packed that many supporters of the action had to wait outside. “It’s clear from case law that the enactment of primary legislation carries with it no duty of fairness to the public.”

But Michael Mansfield QC, representing the protest group, argued that a “subclass – of women, not men – has been created by this discriminatory legislation.”

Citing the case of a woman known only as PS, who after a lifetime of working and never drawing benefits was now reduced to what she described as a “degrading and humiliating life” visiting food banks and subsisting on tinned food and biscuits, Mansfield said: “They have pushed women who were already disadvantaged into the lowest class you can imagine.

“They’re on the brink of survival, and I’m not overstating that. This group – especially the percentage of the group affected born in 1953 onwards – are increasingly having taken away from them four to six years’ worth of state pension. We’re dealing with very serious sums: £37,000 to £47,000. I think any citizen would be concerned by that withdrawal.”

Eadie said there was no onus on the government to advertise changes to primary legislation or to individually inform the 3.8 million women affected by any changes.

“There is precisely no obligation on parliament to notify those affected by its judgments,” he said. “Indeed, any such suggestion that a duty of that kind exists would be contrary to established principles. There is no basis in principle for the creation of any such duty.”

Pressed by Lord Justice Irwin on whether there could be legal remedy for the women for the lack of notice of the changes, Eadie said there were no principles of natural justice or principles of fairness in play. “There can be no legal remedy,” he said. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jun/06/no-duty-of-fairness-to-women-hit-by-pension-age-rise-court-told?

“Austerity to blame for 130,000 ‘preventable’ UK deaths – report”

“More than 130,000 deaths in the UK since 2012 could have been prevented if improvements in public health policy had not stalled as a direct result of austerity cuts, according to a hard-hitting analysis to be published this week.

The study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) thinktank finds that, after two decades in which preventable diseases were reduced as a result of spending on better education and prevention, there has been a seven-year “perfect storm” in which state provision has been pared back because of budget cuts, while harmful behaviours among people of all ages have increased.

Had progress been maintained at pre-2013 rates, around 131,000 lives could have been saved, the IPPR concludes. Despite promises made during the NHS’s 100th birthday celebrations last year to prioritise prevention, the UK is now only halfway up a table of OECD countries on its record for tackling preventable diseases.

The report is concerned with preventable diseases or disorders such as heart disease, lung cancer or liver problems, which can be caused by unhealthy lifestyles and habits, formed often at a young age. It finds evidence of disturbing reductions in physical activity in schools and chronic underfunding of health visitors.

The lead researcher and author, Dean Hochlaf, said: “We have seen progress in reducing preventable disease flatline since 2012. At the same time, local authorities have seen significant cuts to their public health budgets, which has severely impacted the capacity of preventative services.

“Social conditions for many have failed to improve since the economic crisis, creating a perfect storm that encourages harmful health behaviours. This health challenge will only continue to worsen.”

The IPPR calls for a “radical new prevention strategy” involving a renewed and increased commitment to the state’s role in preventing disease.

“No longer can we place the burden of responsibility exclusively upon the individual, while turning a blind eye to a social environment which makes healthy lifestyles difficult to achieve. This means investing in public health and ensuring the government takes a greater responsibility to create a healthy environment.”

On cuts to physical education in school, it says: “PE has been reduced in schools across England, with a 5% reduction at key stage 3 and a 21% reduction across key stage 4 reported between 2011 and 2017. This is despite the noted benefits of physical education – not simply on physical development, but also through promoting healthier lifestyles and helping to enhance people’s cognitive and social skills.”

The report adds: “Funding for physical education – supposedly coming from the sugar tax revenues – was reduced in 2017 from £415m to £100m, to part fund an increase in the core school budget. The lost funding should be replenished, potentially funded by an expansion of the sugar levy to other drinks and confectionery with high sugar content.”

Five compulsory health visits should be made to every child during their early life, with an additional visit six months before a child starts nursery school, the IPPR says. “These should be carried out by a trained professional. Health visitors should be provided with additional training to collect vital information on key health indicators and be prepared to offer support and guidance to encourage breastfeeding based on clinical evidence and ensuring that parents are vaccinating their children.”

Researchers found the system of health visits creaking under the strain.

“An estimated two in five (44%) of health visitors reported caseloads in excess of 400 children, well above the recommended level of 250 per visitor needed to deliver a safe service.” The report recommends another 5,100 training places for health visitors.

In a statement, the Local Government Association said the government urgently needed to reverse the £700m reduction in public health funding since 2015 and plug a £3.6bn gap in funding for adult social care by 2025.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/01/perfect-storm-austerity-behind-130000-deaths-uk-ippr-report?