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03 May 2017, 01:00

Any tinkering with pensioner benefits should be approached with caution says Saga

Sir Andrew Dilnot's calls for the new government to put social care at the top of the agenda will be welcomed by people of all ages who have seen the very real impact that our ailing social care system is having on the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society. However, the suggestion that this could be done at the expense of pensioner benefits might prove to be incredibly unpopular with older voters unless there were some commitment to ring-fence the funds for social care.

Saga's latest Populus survey of almost 10,000 people said that these benefits were of huge importance to older people, with widespread opposition to giving them up or paying tax on the value of the benefits. In fact half of over 50s were opposed to giving up or paying tax on their winter fuel allowance (50%), their free bus pass (52%) or the free TV Licence (28%); and three quarters (74%) wanted to maintain free prescriptions. However, they were significantly more likely to consider a reduction or change in benefits when asked if they would do so if the money saved went directly towards providing better care for the elderly.

Would be willing to give up, or pay for tax on the value of the following benefits?

Would be willing to give up, or pay tax on the value of benefits if the money was going towards providing better care for the elderly?

Winter Fuel Allowance



TV licence






Eye tests



Bus pass



Lisa Harris, head of communication for Saga commented "Those in receipt of their state pension have paid their contribution towards the gradually improved benefits and pension levels of the elderly generations preceding them. A true inter-generational contract would acknowledge this, and ensure that they and the generations following them, should be entitled to at least the level of benefit that they were funding during their working lives.

“Any tinkering with these benefits should be approached with caution. What lesson does it teach those in work if they see the State taking away these benefits for those who have spent their working lives sustaining them?”


Editors notes:

For further information please contact

Lisa Harris on 01303 774716 or email

Populus interviewed 9,482 Saga respondents, all aged 50+ online between 18 and 24 April 2017. Data was weighted to be nationally representative. Populus is a member of the British Polling council and abides by its rules.

Contact information

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The Saga Group Communications Team only deal with enquiries from the media.

If you're not a journalist, visit our contact us page for a full list of telephone numbers.

Lisa Harris

Head of Communications

01303 774716

Angela Clifton

Deputy Head of Communications

01303 776504