The Chancellor's pledge of additional money and grants for pensioners to help heat their homes has been met with scepticism from elderly campaign groups Age Concern and Help the Aged.
Gordon Lishman, Age Concern's director general, last night criticised Gordon Brown's pre-budget speech for its number of "unanswered questions".
Mr Brown announced the basic state pension would increase by 3.6 per cent in April next year to #87.30 with a boost for poorer pensioners by increasing the pension credit guarantee to #5 a week for single people and #7.65 a week for couples.
In addition, Mr Brown said the Government would continue to support the Warm Homes programme to help combat fuel poverty.
Under the scheme, pensioners can apply for grants of #300 to #4,000 for insulation and central heating.
Mr Brown said: "By the end of 2008 we will have insulated 2.7 million homes."
But Mr Lishman said not enough focus had been placed on older people in the Chancellor's speech.
He called the speech "a chance for the Chancellor to face his big test. Instead he left unanswered questions and incomplete coursework.
"He could have managed the A* that older voters had hoped for: By focusing on the third of older workers who are without GCSE-standard skill levels, by helping people who are scared of setting their heating at an adequate level and by starting the debate on the crisis-ridden social care system.
"Instead, he's left many pensioners in the cold and he's left hundreds of thousands of older people confused and failed by the social care system. The absence of real support to help older people cope with rising energy costs means that more and more older people will be left struggling to pay their bills this winter.
"The Winter Fuel Payment was a welcome and positive initiative for older people – but it has not increased in line with energy prices.
"Since 2003, domestic gas prices have risen by 87 per cent and domestic electricity prices by 56 per cent. The #200 Winter Fuel Payment covered just over one third of the average annual energy bill in 2003. It now covers just one fifth."
Mervyn Kohler, of Help the Aged, said: "While the Chancellor painted a picture of a prosperous UK economy, the reality for pensioners is that they are facing the harshest winter for years.
"The Government can claim proper credit for some of the steps it has taken in the past, but it is bordering on an insult to recycle the same Christmas presents year after year, and brazenly claim that the problem of pensioner poverty is sorted.
"One in five older people live below the poverty line. In a country as rich as ours, this is a failure of epic proportions."
More Birmingham Post pre-Budget stories:
>> Brown blasted for 'feeble' report
>> Brown fails to go green
>> Sir Digby sets sights on skills
>> Political Editor Jonathan Walker gives his opinion
>> Birmingham Chamber of Commerce & Industry's reaction
>> Air fares to rise
>> Pension fear over u-turn
>> Brown cautious but not frugal
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