- John McDonnell MP will be the first ever chancellor or shadow chancellor to address the annual NPC Pensioners’ Parliament in Blackpool
- Mr McDonnell is expected to announce details of Labour’s plans to set up an Older People’s Commission to look at the range of issues facing the older generation
- Other guest speakers include John Hilary, Director of War on Want and Dot Gibson, NPC General Secretary, alongside representatives of the RCN, UNISON, UNITE, Chartered Institute of Housing, Action on Elder Abuse, International Longevity Centre and the Campaign for Better Transport
Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), is staging its annual gathering in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool next week, from 14-16 June.
Hundreds of older campaigners from across the UK are expected to hear Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP outline Labour’s plan to set up an Older People’s Commission that will look at a range of issues affecting the older generation ahead of the 2020 election.
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 eg. food, gas, electricity
- 1.5m 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 (700,000) 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
Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: “Over the last few years, pensioners have often been described in very negative ways or portrayed as the cause of society’s problems. Terms such as bed blocker are usually linked with older people to give the impression that the shortage of beds in the NHS is the fault of the individual, rather than the collapse of the social care system in the community. Equally, older people have been said to have escaped austerity and are the cause of all the problems faced by younger generations. Pensioners are invariably shown as gallivanting on SAGA cruises or jumping out of aeroplanes on their 90th birthday, but the reality is that 20% of older people live in poverty and 60% are living on an annual income of less than £11,000 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. With this understanding we can then start to design and map out the kind of services and welfare that is needed to look after and support people after a lifetime of work. At the moment, the UK is not the best place in which to grow older and that needs to change.”
Highlights of the Parliament will include:
- 14 June 2-4pm: a two hour rally which will include John McDonnell MP.
- 15 June: Debates on changes to pensions and retirement, the crisis in social care, privatisation of the NHS, how the devolution agenda might affect public transport, housing and older people and the effect a digital-only society would have on those who are not online.
- 16 June: Panel discussion looking at the impact of cuts over the last five years and considering what the next five years hold for campaigners.
Notes for Editors
- A copy of the programme for the NPC Pensioners’ Parliament can be seen at:
- 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 Blackpool Tower) with a jazz band and hundreds of marchers with banners.
- The opening session will start at 2pm on Tuesday 14 June in the Opera House, Winter Gardens, Blackpool and concludes with a panel discussion at 10am on Thursday 16 June.