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Budget Rewards the Hard-Working - But What About Those in Retirement?

31/03/2014 11:53 BST | Updated 28/05/2014 10:59 BST

This month's Budget brought welcome reward for Britain's "workers and savers".

Toil, self-reliance and thrift have been buzzwords of this Government, and its measures to bring Britain out of economic woe. The mantra has been "reward the worthy" with the subtext: "nothing comes for free."

But for the past five years, these same worthy savers have been amongst the hardest hit by fiscal policy, as interest on savings accounts has depleted, hitting incomes as a result.

Among those most affected have been the retired, who have spent their lifetimes accumulating wealth in order to live independently in older age. In our latest Silver Census, two thirds of the over 65s we questioned said poor interest rates returns have made life in recent years uncomfortable; almost half are living more frugally.

The latest measure to raise ISA limits will give some small reward back to those who have money left to invest - although predictions that the base rate will stay moderately low does little to alleviate the strain.

The Chancellor's announcement on annuity reform is another measure to return spending power to those who have earned it; but it was met with a mixed response as commentators consider the long-term impact of leaving individuals to choose how they spend their wealth in older age.

While economic indicators have shown steady improvement during 2014, we found that the over 65s aren't feeling as confident. A third feel less financially secure than they did a year ago - and considerably more are now concerned about having sufficient funds to live on in older age.

The Chancellor's reforms are a step in the right direction. But whether these measures come too little too late remains to be seen. As employment picks up and the housing market surges forward, we should not lose sight of the longer-term impact that the past five years have had on a large, often overlooked, segment of society.

Britain's priority must be to empower our older population to live independently. In a country determined to reward the hardest working, no prize is greater than earning the freedom to live in your own home, and dictate your own care, in your later years. I only hope that, as these Budget measures set in, our over 65s also start to share in the spoils of a recovering economy.