Clegg rejects higher pensioner tax

Nick CleggDeputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has rejected recommendations that pensioners should pay higher taxes and have benefits cut in order to help young people achieve more.

The first annual report of the government's Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission to be published today will say that older generations should become targets of austerity measures after years of being safeguarded by MPs, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Former Labour MP Alan Milburn, chairman of the commission and the coalition Government's adviser on social mobility, argues that families are suffering too much of the country's debt burden and young people can no longer expect to achieve the same quality of life as their middle class parents.

But Liberal Democract leader Mr Clegg wrote in the Daily Telegraph today that "punishing pensioners isn't going to help a single child achieve more in life".

He said he welcomes the report's criticism of the slow progress that the Government is making on the issues and its challenge to the Government to do more.

"It has many powerful recommendations, such as the need to ensure child care funding makes work pay even for families on low incomes, and the need to do more on vocational education," he wrote in the newspaper.

"But it also makes some more debatable assertions, about the appropriate balance of fiscal consolidation between different age groups, for example - punishing pensioners isn't going to help a single child achieve more in life."

He added that the cost of past government failures, including a lack of house building, uncontrolled borrowing, educational underachievement and low investment in energy infrastructure, is now "unfairly" falling on working families.

Labour MP Frank Field said: "Anyone - like an MP - who works with talented young graduates for a decade or more knows that they will achieve far less in respect of material possessions than established MPs have already achieved.

"When I left university I expected to get a job, be a member of a generous pension scheme, acquire savings and buy at least one home. The young people working with me know they're lucky if they're able to achieve just one of these objectives.

"To say that today's children and young people will gain far less material possessions than their parents is old hat. What we need to know is why there has been this huge shift in rewards and then do our best to counter them."