Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) will today (November 5) launch its Pensioners’ Manifesto for the 2015 general election.
As part of the launch, hundreds of pensioners from across the UK will gather in Westminster to hear representatives of the main political parties and to lobby their individual MPs over issues such as pensions, social care and the future of universal benefits such as the bus pass and winter fuel allowance.
Earlier this year, the NPC held a three month consultation with 1000 pensioner groups across the country to find out the main issues of concern amongst older people. Thousands of individual members took part in the exercise, and the top five concerns included:
- Raising the basic state pension for all above the poverty level of £175 a week, and ensuring existing pensioners were not penalised by the new single-tier state pension
- Reintroducing the Retail Price Index alongside the Consumer Price Index, earnings and 2.5 as a measure for increasing pensions each year
- Maintaining universal pensioner benefits (bus pass, winter fuel allowance, free TV licences for the over 75s and free prescriptions) without any means-testing
- Creating a National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through taxation (merging the NHS and social care)
- Introducing a legally binding Dignity Code to improve the quality and standards of care for older people in hospital, care homes or their own home
The Convention also received over 120 additional policy suggestions from its members, including a call for more action to be taken to combat the negative portrayal of older people in the media and elsewhere, a nationwide programme of insulation and energy efficiency measures to tackle growing fuel poverty and a minimum visit time of at least 30 minutes for social care at home.
Over the coming months the NPC plans to put the manifesto before prospective parliamentary candidates as a way of highlighting the concerns of Britain’s 11m older voters – and the campaign message will be clear – “Use your vote for those candidates that support the Pensioners’ Manifesto”.
Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: “The UK is not an easy place for many older people to be right now. Despite what some have argued, pensioners have not escaped the government’s austerity programme and cuts to the winter fuel allowance, rationing of care services, changes to the way pensions are uprated every year, the freeze on tax allowances and the rising costs of living are all beginning to take their toll.”
“But pensioners are not selfish and we recognise that younger people are also having a difficult time. Suggestions that there is a kind of generational divide are therefore totally untrue. The real division is between those at the top of society and the rest of us who are paying for their mistakes.”
“It will be important that we send a clear message to all the political parties that older people want to see their concerns over pensions, care and universal benefits addressed by the next government. For many older people the luxury of time simply doesn’t apply. We need action now.”