Ed Miliband today announced that the next Labour government will protect pensioners’ income, introduce new laws to safeguard their retirement savings, keep their energy bills down and improve care for those who are frail or vulnerable.
Joining Anna Turley, Labour’s candidate for Redcar at a People’s Question Time on Teesside, Mr Miliband said older people have been let down by the Government which has worsened their living standards by failing to act against rip-off pension fees or energy bills and slashing funding for social care.
And he announced how Labour has a better plan for pensioners by announcing that the next Labour government will:
• Reinforce the protection offered to living standards by the triple-lock by guaranteeing no changes to Winter Fuel Payments except for the richest five per cent of pensioners, and by maintaining universal TV licences and bus passes.
• Cap fees and charges on new products allowing people to draw-down on pension savings so they get protection when they take money out as they do when they put money in.
• Help pensioners struggling with energy bills by freezing gas and electricity prices until 2017 and offering free efficiency improvements to at least 200,000 households at risk of fuel poverty.
• Keep people safe and healthy at home by driving out the culture of 15-minute care slots, bringing in 5,000 new homecare workers, and introducing a new system of safety checks for vulnerable older people.
At a speech at Redcar & Cleveland College, Ed Miliband said:
“David Cameron likes to boast he has looked after pensioners but like all his other claims from immigration to the deficit to live TV debates, you have to read the small print.
“Because the truth is he can’t be trusted to protect pensioners any more than he can be trusted on living standards for working families.
“For years, David Cameron and George Osborne failed to heed Labour’s call for an end to rip-off fees which eat away the value of pension savings. They are now introducing pension reforms without ensuring the proper safeguards against fraud and mis-selling are in place.
“They have stripped back social care so much that we have been left with the scandal of 15-minute visits for some of the most vulnerable and an NHS bill running into hundreds of millions because of unnecessary hospital admissions. And now they want to go further and faster, cutting public services year after year even when the books have been balanced until spending has fallen to a level not seen since the 1930s before there was an NHS.
“And, the whole country knows that these Tories will never stand up to the powerful energy companies that for too long have been charging rip-off prices to millions of pensioners struggling to keep their homes warm.
“Labour has a better plan for protecting pensioners.
“We have taken a difficult decision to restrict Winter Fuel Payments for the very richest older people, the top 5 per cent with retirement incomes that make them higher rate tax payers.
“But today I can announce that is the only change we are planning in the system. Because even in these tough times when the deficit must be cleared, Labour knows the importance of ensuring those who have worked all their lives can retire with dignity.
“We will strengthen the protection for pensioners’ living standards offered by the triple lock by guaranteeing Winter Fuel payments to all but the wealthiest, as well as bus passes and free TV licences to all those currently eligible.
“This is a big commitment but it is one I am making today because doing right by older people is the right thing to do.
“And we will do even more because, unlike other parties, we will stand up for pensioners by standing up to the vested interests.
“We will act to protect savings by capping rip-off fees and charges on new pension products coming on the market now so that when people draw money out of their hard-earned pension pot, they have similar protections as they do when they put money in.
“We will act to protect pensioners being hit with sky-high energy bills by taking on those gas and electricity firms, freezing their prices until 2017 so they can only go down and not up, as well as ensuring that older people in poverty can cut bills further with free insulation and efficiency improvements.
“And we will act to protect the frail and vulnerable, driving out the culture of 15-minute care slots and bringing in a new arm of the NHS with 5,000 homecare workers.
“This is a better plan for older people. The next Labour government will protect pensioners’ incomes, safeguard retirement savings, keep homes warm, and improve care for those who are frail or vulnerable.”