‘We’ve lost our lives because of the Tories’ poor management of the crisis’
After three months staying home in Kendal, Cumbria, 71-year-old Evelyn Morgan has returned to work as a carer for disabled people. The grandmother of eight was relieved there was no mention of scrapping the triple-lock pension in Rishi Sunak’s summer statement.
The £600 a month she receives in state pension is a large part of her income, and she believes taking that protection away would be devastating to so many people her age.
Before lockdown, Morgan enjoyed going out with friends and is happy about the chancellor’s “eat out to help out” scheme. She has reservations, however, about the way the discount will be implemented – and is particularly worried that she will not be able to use it in the local eateries she wants to support.
She feels the government has failed to recognise the contribution pensioners have made in recent months.
“The idea seems to be that we all have to pull our weight to get the economy moving again. But pensioners are already suffering – we’ve lost our lives because of the Tories’ poor management of the crisis. It’s like the government doesn’t give two hoots about the older generation. They think once you get to 65 you’re going to be gone soon, so why should we worry about them?”
‘I wish the chancellor had given more assurances to people like me’
For Rachel Alake, a single mother, lockdown has been a struggle – both financially and trying to homeschool a 12- and eight-year-old while caring for a toddler. She doesn’t expect much to change as restrictions are eased.
Money is tight for the 33-year-old from Chigwell, Essex. As well as receiving child benefits of £48.68 a week and a weekly child tax credit payment of £116, she is awarded £130 weekly in housing benefit to cover the rent of her home.
Alake is frustrated that the government appears to have forgotten the needs of single parents throughout the coronavirus crisis. “I wish the chancellor had given more assurance to people like me, who are not working, that we were being thought of and that there would be more support on offer down the line,” she says.
Alake quit her part-time job as a practice manager at a physiotherapy clinic after the birth of her youngest child and was planning to return to paid employment this year. She welcomes Sunak’s plan to double the number of “work coaches” to help the unemployed into new roles.
She says: “It’s really good for people trying to get back into work. If there is a guarantee for me to get the job I need in terms of salary, making sure I’m comfortable in the role and getting support within the job, then yes, it’s definitely a good move.”
‘The government has got to start properly funding social care’
Despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, John Woodward, an entrepreneur, is braced for more tough times ahead. The 64-year-old from Lichfield, Staffordshire, owns multiple businesses and knows the huge amount of money being committed by the government to supporting companies and employees during the pandemic will eventually have to be repaid.
As a high earner with an annual income of about £150,000, Woodward expects to be worse off over the next five years. But he thinks it is fair that affluent people should bear a greater financial burden to get the economy back on its feet.
The founder of Busy Bees nurseries set up one of the first childcare voucher schemes in the UK and is now campaigning for a similar scheme for adult social care. Although the chancellor pledged £49bn to support public services, Woodward was disappointed that the summer statement did not include extra funding for the social care sector.
“The government has got to start properly funding social care. Now is the time to do it,” he says. “I believe adult social care has to be a mixed economy. There has to be state-provided provision as well as privately provided provision, and everybody should work together.”