Age Concern suggests wealth tax could help seniors struggling with cost of living
A wealth tax is needed to help-out hard-pressed seniors, the charity Age Concern Bermuda has said.
As the cost of living crisis continues with price hikes in basic commodities such as food and energy, Claudette Fleming, the executive director of the organisation, also called for a special commission to look at the social fallout from the pandemic.
Dr Fleming said that increasing numbers of elderly people were seeking help with medical and housing costs, as well getting enough to eat.
“We need some sort of tax to protect our safety-net programmes. It would have to be some kind of wealth tax.
“We need a tax rise without it hitting the very people we are trying to help.”
Dr Fleming said an inquiry was needed to look at the way forward after the ravages in society caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “We also need a post-pandemic commission to look at the social fallout from it.”
Age concern has paid $200,000 to pensioners in need during the past two years.
“I do anticipate that more people will be needing this support,” said Dr Fleming. “People are telling us they do not have enough to fulfil their needs.
“We have given out around $200,000 in the past two years in financial hardship support.
“That is growing. Major areas are food. They are also seeking help with housing. Also, we are receiving more calls for help with medical costs.
“And now there is the Belco price increase that has just been announced.”
David Burt, the Premier, announced last week a pension rise of 2.75 per cent, despite widespread concern that inflation is much higher than the official figure of 2.5 per cent.
Dr Fleming suggested an increase in contributions to the pension fund could also be a way forward.
She said: “Reviews of the pension fund have called for an increase in contributions.
“The Government has to balance things – increasing contributions may come as well.”
The pension increase will be back-dated to August, 2021.
The Government has promised to bring in a series of measures to alleviate the cost of living crisis by the time the House of Assembly rises for the summer recess on July 15.
Age Concern Bermuda has previously said many of its 5,200 members were calling for greater price control regulations.
The charity’s hardship scheme spending ran to $101,000 in 2020-21, and reached a similar amount in the past year.
Although a year-by-year comparison is not available owing to a change in how support is categorised, the charity said that compared with a total in 2016-17 of $32,000.