As the media dubbed George Osborne’s Wednesday announcement a ‘granny-bashing’ budget due to its freeze on tax allowances for pensioners, elderly groups have hit the headlines with their responses.
Saga’s director-general Ros Altmann dubbed the budget an ‘outrageous assault on decent middle-class pensioners’, and issued a statement within minutes of the budget announcement. Meanwhile, Age UK suggested that pensioners are set to lose £5 a week, while the Older People’s Commissioner also hit out at the news.
Saga head of comms Paul V. Green told PRWeek that Saga has experience a ‘deluge of requests’ for interviews from the media, which have been handled by Altmann and supported by Saga Magazine editor Emma Soames.
Green explained that Saga has been providing regular economic comment in the media and so had built the media’s trust for good commentary in the run-up to the budget.
‘During the budget we had a discussion, agreed on our key headlines and put a note out to the PA. I won’t pretend it was the most in-depth of statements, it was three paragraphs and an invitation to pick up the phone. And they all did,’ said Green.
Green added that the group has placed around six case studies in the media about how elderly people would be affected by the budget, which haven’t been badged as being from Saga, but ‘it helps to build a relationship with the national press'.
Other protest groups that gained headlines included UK Uncut, which had about 300 people joining a ‘dole queue’ protest outside Downing Street, in a re-enactment of the famous 1979 Tory election poster of an unemployment queue. Activists from the Right to Work campaign also joined the protest.
Meanwhile, one of the men behind fuel protests that nearly brought the UK to a halt in 2000 is warning there could be a repeat this autumn. Devon farmer Richard Haddock said unless the Government dropped the rise, there could be more protests.
Headlines were also gained by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which noted that the proposed phasing out of the income tax age allowance was a small tax increase for most pensioners – a group that has seen the fastest rise in living standards of any during the past decade.