Once again, older people are being presented as an economic burden on society. The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, under pressure to produce the long delayed Green Paper on Social Care funding, has warned that taxes will have to keep rising for years to come to cover the cost of caring for Britain’s ageing population. (Cue intergenerational warfare.)
What he isn’t quoting is how much pensioners contribute to the Exchequer. In a report by independent economists SQW commissioned by the charity WRVS (now the RVS) in 2010 the older generation contributed £40 bn a year through, among other contributions, taxes, spending power, provision of social care and volunteering. SQW said this would rise to £82 bn by 2030.[i] The cost of providing social care to older people cost £34 bn in 2010 and will rise to £52 bn by 2030.
The figures speak for themselves. Pensioners contribute more than the cost of social care for the elderly who need it. They are not a burden on society. In addition, the social care sector provides jobs, work for ancillary service providers and generates its own product(s) market. Care homes, in particular, generate jobs and income for their local communities.
In the 23 months following the Chancellor’s promise that there would be a Green Paper on Social Care, 54,000 pensioners died while waiting for their care package to begin. 636,000 were refused care funding altogether. [ii]
Churches are doing a great job in reaching out to older people in their communities, with most of the volunteers being pensioners themselves. The Cinnamon Trust, that provides financial support to these projects valued the worth of their involvement in this work at more than £3 billion a year.
The WRVS called its report, ‘Gold Age Pensioners’, reflecting their value not just in monetary terms, but in their voluntary and social work. Perhaps someone should send the Chancellor a copy.