Pensioners stage protest over pensions, care and universal benefits
Wednesday 2 November 2016
Hundreds of pensioners from across the UK will gather in Westminster on November 2nd to lobby their MPs over the state pension “triple lock”, the funding crisis in social care and the future of universal benefits such as the winter fuel allowance.
The protest, organised by Britain’s biggest pensioner pressure group – the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), will address the suggestions that have been made recently by both Iain Duncan Smith and Baroness Ros Altmann that the “triple lock” should be scrapped.
Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: “The idea that the “triple lock” is too generous is ridiculous. In the last five years, it has only provided a higher increase than the pre-2010 arrangement on just one occasion. Next year the old basic state pension is likely to rise by around £3 a week and just £1.80 for millions of women who don’t receive a full pension, but the new state pension will go up by around £3.90. This is completely unfair.”
The Convention also points out that universal pensioner benefits such as the winter fuel allowance and the concessionary bus pass are constantly under attack from those who claim older people have escaped austerity at the expense of younger generations. The reality is that many young and older people have been affected by the cuts, and setting one age group against another is extremely divisive.
One of the key areas services facing cuts has been that of social care. Since 2010, social care budgets have been cut by around £5bn. The system suffers from a postcode lottery of charges, limited access to services, badly paid and poorly trained staff, a lack of proper regulation, low standards, inadequate “flying” 15-minute visits and a lack of dignity for both staff and residents.
“Every week, we come across examples of how older people have been let down by the care system”, said Ms Gibson. “In the last six years, over £5bn has been cut from social care budgets, 1.8m people no longer get services at home and half of all care homes are facing financial problems. It’s clear we need a new model for social care – one that shares the cost across society as a whole and which can improve access to services, as well as standards of care. We need a National Health and Social Care Service (NHSCS) funded through taxation.”
“The general public, those involved in the care sector and older people and their families are way ahead of the politicians on this issue. They know the current system isn’t working and more of the same just isn’t going to solve anything. We need something bold to tackle the major problems facing the sector. Waiting until 2020, as the government has suggested, will effectively mean that older people are left to suffer for years and for some it will be too late. That is completely unacceptable,” Ms Gibson added.
Programme for the day
- 11.30am – Photo opportunity/protest at Old Palace Yard (opposite House of Lords) involving campaigners with placards and banners.
- 1pm – Rally, Committee Room 14, House of Commons. Speakers include Dot Gibson (NPC), Ian Blackford MP (SNP), Heather Wakefield (UNISON) and John McDonnell MP (Shadow Chancellor)
- 3pm onwards – Lobby of MPs
- For further information contact Neil Duncan-Jordan on 07432-575251
- Regional spokespeople will also be available for interview both before and on the day