Election round-up

What are the main parties’ policies which directly affect older workers?

Older man and younger woman looking at a computer


What are the main political parties pledging on specific issues relating to older workers?

In addition to wider policies on taxation, health, jobs, employment rights and flexible working, the main parties have also made specific pledges aimed at older workers.

The Conservatives’ manifesto includes a pledge to “help carers in receipt of Universal Credit” and to review assessments for those with disabilities.  The manifesto also contains a promise to extend the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers, the majority of whom are women, to one week and to review a pensions loophole which means many with net pay pension schemes who earn between £10,000 and £12,500, most of them women, have missed on pension benefits. On social care it says it will give £1 billion extra of funding every year for more social care staff and better infrastructure, technology and facilities. On longer term plans, though, it is more vague, saying only that it “will commit to urgently seek a cross-party consensus in order to bring forward the necessary proposal and legislation for longterm reform”.

Labour’s manifesto includes the promise of menopause protections, a National Care Service, scrapping Universal Credit, a Universal Basic Income pilot, tailored support and protections for the self employed, including: collective income protection insurance schemes, annual income assessments for those on Universal Credit and better access to mortgages and pension schemes. Other pledges include keeping the state pension age at 66 and requiring all employers are trained to better support disabled people, while introducing mandatory disability pay-gap reporting for companies with over 250 employees.

On WASPI women, born in the 1950s and affected by the equalisation of the state pension age, Labour has said it will compensate women. The Lib Dems say they will ensure “women born in the 1950s are properly compensated for the failure of government to properly notify them of changes to the state pension age, in line with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Ombudsman”. The Conservatives say they cannot promise any money for the WASPI women.

Both Labour and the Lib Dems have pledged to maintain the triple lock – a policy that ensures the basic state pension will rise in line with the highest of wages, Consumer Prices Index inflation, or 2.5%. The Lib Dems have ring-fenced £7bn for social care and say they intend to raise via a 1p in the pound on income tax to be spent only on NHS and social care services. In the longer term, they plan to establish a cross-party health and social care convention to reach an agreement on the long-term sustainable funding of a joined-up system of health and social care.  The Liberal Democrats have also pledged to “review the rules concerning pensions so that those in the gig economy don’t lose out”.

The Greens are pledging to introduce a Universal Basic Income, which would be phased in, with a view to all adults being in receipt of their full rate of UBI by 2025 and the first tranche of people to receive it being the WASPI women, women born in the 50s who have lost out due to changes in the pension system. UBI would consist of a single payment of £89 a week for adults which would replace most benefits, but certain groups would get more, for instance,  pensioners, the disabled, lone parents, those currently on Housing Benefit and families with an income of under £50,000 per year.

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