Autumn Statement 2014: pensioners 'most in need of help'

Press Association
old woman with a stick
old woman with a stick

George Osborne needs to prioritise pensioners in his Autumn Statement, according to a poll.

We asked almost 10,000 readers who they felt was most in need of assistance as the chancellor steps up to deliver his speech later today, and a significant 40% of you identified those in retirement.

Families were the second most popular group, with more than a quarter (28%) of the votes, while small businesses came a distant third (13%).

Just over one in 10 (11%) respondents felt that younger Brits most needed a hand, while motorists and commuters garnered just 8% of the votes.

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Are pensioners really most in need?

Obviously it's a highly emotive issue, and a case can clearly be made for each of the groups listed above. However, the fact that pensioners are by far the most voted for option comes as something of a surprise when you consider that they have been most protected from the government's austerity measures, relatively speaking.

As one of our writers points out here, George Osborne has saved £2.5 billion with his austerity measures, but the plan to cut the welfare and pensions bill by £19 billion has been thrown off course by the decision to 'triple lock' the state pension, which means it is guaranteed to rise at the highest of inflation, earnings, or 2.5%.

"Coupled with people living longer and it is no surprise there has been a £5 billion increase in spending on the state pension since January 2010," she writes.

"While working age benefits have been cut by 6%, the cost of pensions has jumped 11%."

And it's worth highlighting another survey released in the summer from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, which found that, for the first time in history, retired people in the UK have 5% more cash coming in than those who are still working.

No one has it easy

To stress, neither of the points raised above assert that pensioners have it easy: far from it. Many are struggling to make ends and in desperate need of help.

However, what they do suggest is that recent austerity measures have been more detrimental to other demographics. And as such it is notable that pensioners are still deemed by far the most in need of help.

As a final point, if you are retired and struggling financially, it's essential you make use of all assistance available to you. A recent Age UK survey found that more than a third of older people entitled to claim Pension Credit fail to do so. Read more here.

Have your say: who do you think is most in need of help? Why? Share your views in the comments section below.

Pensioners: The New Spending Generation
Pensioners: The New Spending Generation

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