Shoppers urge Chancellor to fund pensions, invest in public services and support vulnerable ahead of Autumn Statement

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Sunderland shoppers give their message to the Chancellor ahead of Autumn statement.

The city’s residents have urged the Chancellor to stick to the 'higher rate' triple-lock pension pledge, invest in public services, reduce fuel duty and continue to support society’s most vulnerable people with the cost of energy.

Residents shopping at the Galleries in Washington made the plea ahead of tomorrow’s Autumn budget statement.

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While the main budget takes place in the Spring, tomorrow’s Autumn statement from chancellor Jeremy Hunt updates Parliament on the country’s economic status and introduces new fiscal policies and spending which can have a major impact on public services and people’s pockets.

The triple lock pension pledge was perhaps the key area of concern for the older demographic shopping at the Galleries.

Shoppers at the Galleries have been outlining what they hope to see in tomorrow's Autumn statement.Shoppers at the Galleries have been outlining what they hope to see in tomorrow's Autumn statement.
Shoppers at the Galleries have been outlining what they hope to see in tomorrow's Autumn statement. | National World

The triple lock promise is that annual pensions will increase by the highest out of September’s inflation rate - currently 6.7% - average earnings, or a base rate of 2.5%.

This year, earnings growth is highest at 8.5%, but the Treasury may choose not honour this figure.

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Retired salesman, Steve Long, 70, from Washington, said: “I hope he maintains the triple lock pledge and the highest rate of increase.

“This will obviously be a big help to pensioners. I also think they should increase the base rate at which people start paying tax to ensure those on low incomes have more money in their pocket.”

Vivien Bell.Vivien Bell.
Vivien Bell. | National World

It’s a sentiment shared by retired admin worker, Vivien Bell, 64, who added: “I should have started my pension at 60 until they changed the starting age. My husband is on his state pension and so I hope the Government sticks to its triple lock pledge to increase it by the highest rate.

“I also hope he reduces income tax and national insurance payments as normal working people are really struggling at the moment.

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“I know my own children are struggling with high mortgage payments at the moment and I do think the Government needs to do more to support people with these high interest property payments.”

David Poulton.David Poulton.
David Poulton. | National World

Retired HSBC banker, David Poulton, 65, wants to see a commitment from the chancellor to invest more money into public services.

The Labour voter said: “So much has been cut in real terms from spending on public services that they are struggling to make ends meet and are scraping around for money.

“As a result, there has definitely been a deterioration in schools, the NHS and the services local councils can offer.

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“NHS waiting lists in particular are a big problem with people having to wait over three months to see a consultant.

“I’d also like to see another reduction in fuel duty following the Spring Budget 5p cut. Fuel prices are still high and this has a knock on effect on the cost of everything else.”

A key area of discussion ahead of the Autumn statement is the chancellor potentially raising the £325,000 threshold at which the 40% rate of inheritance tax is activated.

David added: “I do think the rate should be increased to around £500,000 as the cost of houses are now far higher than when this was brought in which is pushing far more people above this threshold.”

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However retired police officer and Tory voter David Solan, 80, disagreed.

He said: “I think the inheritance tax rate is correct as families in this position should generally be able to stand on their own two feet.

“I’d rather taxation above this threshold was used to support those at the bottom end who need the greatest help.”

David Solan.David Solan.
David Solan. | National World

Mr Solan does agree with the mooted suggestion that Mr Hunt is to tighten up benefits rules to ensure more people are in employment.

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The retired policeman said: “There are jobs out there and so I do agree with tightening the rules to get people back into work.”

Under the Back to Work plan, disabled people and those who are long term sick will be directed to seek suitable employment which can be done from home.

However, retired joiner William Dunn, 71, said: “I’ve experienced ill health and sometimes you can’t get a job due to your health. I’d also like to see a rise in the base rate for income tax.”

One area of common consensus was the need to continue to provide support with energy payments for the city’s vulnerable residents.

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William Dunn.William Dunn.
William Dunn. | National World

William added: “The cost of gas and electricity is still very high and people need continued support.

“The Government should bring in further money through taxing the profits of the big oil companies.”

Another eagerly anticipated announcement is whether benefits payments will increase at the usual September rate of inflation - 6.7% - or whether Mr Hunt may look to save money by going with October's rate of 4.6%.

The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to commence his Autumn statement at around 12.30pm, after Prime Minister's Questions   


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