Over 1000 members of the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) will gather on Tuesday June 18 for the opening of their annual 3-day Pensioners’ Parliament in Blackpool.
Delegates from across the UK, carrying banners and led by a jazz band will march from the Blackpool Tower through the town centre at 1pm to the Winter Gardens for the start of the event – which comes at a crucial time for older people.
Recently senior ministers have called for universal pensioner benefits such as the winter fuel allowance to be means-tested, the shadow chancellor has suggested that the state pension should be capped and the Bishop of London has criticised older people for being a drain on the economy.
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 having to pay for their mistakes.”
“It will be important that we send a clear message to all the political parties this week – that we have campaigned over many years to secure benefits such as the free bus pass – and we will not give them away lightly. Our state pension remains one of the worst in Europe and the universal benefits are essential in enabling older people to maintain independence and social inclusion which allows them to continue contributing to their local communities.”
Highlights of the Parliament will include:
- On 18 June: a two hour rally featuring Frances O’Grady TUC general secretary, Author Owen Jones, Professor John Ashton Faculty of Public Health and Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary.
- 19/20 June: Debates on pensions and benefits, social care, the changes in the NHS, the importance of public transport, how to unite the generations and the impact that devolution in Scotland, Wales and N Ireland has had on older people.
For more information contact Neil Duncan-Jordan on 07432-575251
Notes for Editors
- National and regional representatives from across the UK will be available for interview on request.
- The event starts at 1pm from Adelaide Street West (behind the BlackpoolTower) with a jazz band and over 1000 marchers with banners.
- The opening session will start at 2pm in the Opera House Theatre, Winter Gardens, Blackpool.
- Contributions will also be made throughout the event by a number of guest speakers including representatives from the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, NHS Consultants’ Association, National Union of Students and Unison.