Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) will be marking the UN Older People’s Day on 1st October with a call to maintain universal pensioner benefits, such as the winter fuel allowance and free bus pass.
Under the banner of “We’re an asset not a burden”, the NPC will argue that rather than these benefits being too expensive – they actually enable older people to make a much bigger financial and social contribution to society.
The NPC claims that every £1 spent on free bus travel generates over £2.87 of benefits for society and the wider economy, through voluntary work, unpaid caring and general expenditure.
In addition, free TV licences to the over 75s are seen as vital when 2 out of 5 older people claim that television is their only form of company, and the winter fuel payment continues to help reduce the number of older people that die or get ill during the winter because they are otherwise afraid of the cost of heating their homes. In total, older people contribute £40bn more to society every year than it costs to provide these benefits.
Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: “It’s time we challenged all those negative attitudes and outdated stereotypes of the over 65s. Every week, a politician, think-tank or media commentator suggests that the country can no longer afford its older generation. They claim that pensioners have escaped the austerity and cuts but this is far from the truth.
“Older people are an asset – not a burden. All pensioners pay tax, either on their income or indirectly, many charities would not exist without older volunteers and how many young families rely on grandparents to provide unpaid childcare?
“One of main reasons why we have these additional benefits in the first place is because the UK’s state pension remains so pitifully low. Rather than keep criticising older people, it’s time we were valued for the contribution we make.”
Throughout Older People’s Day there will be activities and actions taking place in Belfast, Bexley, Braintree, Brighton, Clacton-on-Sea, Derbyshire, Devon, Dover, Enfield, Folkestone, Greenwich, Haringey, Harrow, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Lowestoft, Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Northampton, Nottingham, Oxford, Portsmouth, Reading, Redbridge, Slough, Southwark, Sutton, Wallsend and Yorkshire.
These activities are also part of an ongoing campaign which seeks to protect universal pensioner benefits, known as “Hands Off”. For more information visit: www.handsoff.org.uk.