Age UK has warned of the “horrendous impact” the Universal Credit benefit system is having on older people, at a fringe event at the Labour Party Conference earlier this week.
Angela Kitching, head of external affairs from Age UK, was speaking to an audience of Labour members and charity representatives when she said older people should be taken out of the Universal Credit system, which was put in place under the coalition government in 2013.
She said: “It isn’t a system which is remotely built with older people in mind. It has a horrendous impact.”
She said older people were losing up to £8,000 a year under the system, and up to £19,000 per household.
Solutions to Universal Credit
Kitching advised reversing Conservative policy by protecting universal benefits, continuing to provide free TV licences and bus passes for pensioners, and making sure “not to be casual about them”.
She said a Labour government should think in the medium term about taking some groups out of Universal Credit.
But she added: “Every fibre in my body is saying not to do another upheaval on the social security system.”
Karen Buck, MP for Labour, said she believed a Labour government could replicate the existing tax and benefits system rather than set up “something new and expensive”.
Margaret Greenwood, Labour shadow secretary for work and pensions, said the problem of poverty among the elderly was a problem that has applied across generations.
She pointed to Labour’s policy of banning zero-hour contracts as a way to defeat the big issue of in-work poverty.