Just days before the General Election, Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), is staging its annual gathering in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool from 6-8 June.
Hundreds of older campaigners from across the UK are expected to discuss what each of the main political parties are offering ahead of Thursday’s election, with particular emphasis on the three major concerns of the triple lock on pensions, the cost of social care and the future of benefits such as the winter fuel allowance.
As delegates gather in Blackpool, the NPC has highlighted the current landscape of older life in Britain, showing:
- Almost 40% of those aged 65 and over in the UK have experienced poverty at least once between 2010 and 2013
- 42% of older people (5.8m) in the UK say they have struggled to afford essential items such as food, gas and electricity
- 1.8m older people in England have care and support needs that the state does not meet
- Over 500,000 people aged 65 and over are victims of elder abuse
- 7% of over 65s in the UK (over 700,000 people) say they went without food or other essential items in winter because of worries about the cost of heating their home and 77% of pensioners under-heat their homes, eg. only heat one room as a way of reducing their energy bills
- Latest estimates suggest 1.3m people over 65 suffer from malnutrition, and the vast majority (93%) live in the community
Jan Shortt, NPC general secretary said: “This election could have a huge impact on older people and the quality of their lives over the next five years. There are genuine concerns about the level of the state pension beginning to drop if the triple lock is taken away, and worries about the winter fuel allowance being removed, but by far the biggest concern is over paying for social care. Many pensioners and their families are worried that they may have to sell their homes in order to pay for their care and may begin to wonder why they are being targeted in such a punitive way.”
“Despite how older people are often portrayed, they are not all gallivanting on SAGA cruises or jumping out of aeroplanes on their 90th birthday. The reality is that 20% of older people live in poverty and 60% are living on an annual income of less than £11,500 a year. We can only start to address the very serious issues facing older people when we accept a more balanced view of what life is like for millions of pensioners in 21st century Britain. This election may rest on the so-called “grey vote”, so it’s important that older people realise exactly what each of the parties is offering before they put a cross in the box on 8 June. It will be too late afterwards to start complaining.”