THANKS to Denis Kilcommons (Diary, February 22) for once again raising pensioner issues. Clearly handcuffing an OAP ex-serviceman of 76 who, with his wife exists, on £200 a week is being “tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime”.
A pity that this toughness towards crime does not extend to dangerous criminals and wealthy MPs bunging their partying relatives £10,000 a year for doing nothing; the exact amount that the pensioner and his missus have to live on all year!
Pensioners are a soft target when it comes to initiating “tough” policies or, conversely, ignoring them when it comes to health issues or increasing benefits.
Blair, Brown et al have dismissed the latter concerns since they came to office in 1997. For them pensioners are invisible!
British pensions are the worst-off in Europe. A recent survey by the AON consultancy stated that “the inadequacy of the UK’s state pension was beyond question”. Even the Netherlands – which has the second lowest rate of pension – provides an equivalent state pension of 30% of average earnings, almost double the UK amount!
I am sure that our MPs understand the situation but are failing to speak out for whatever reasons. Just over 18 months ago Huddersfield pensioners, along with Yorkshire and Humberside pensioners, lobbied their MPs at Westminster. One lady was told by a Yorkshire MP that the state pension was not meant to live on. She replied that her mother in her day could live on it.
Later this year the National Pensioners’ Convention, of which Huddersfield and District Pensioners Organisation are members, will be remembering the introduction of the old age pension by David Lloyd George 100 years ago. The centenary will be remembered – not commemorated or celebrated – because it is worth less today than it was under Lloyd George! Badly done Blair and Brown. Badly done indeed!
Yet pensioners have untapped clout. Out of 47m voters 11m are pensioners. They have a wealth of life experience and of the real needs of the elderly. One solution mooted is for a pensioners’ party and getting specific MPs elected. Israel has trod such a path with the recognition of grey power. We in the UK could do the same. Bring back Lloyd George, “a giant amongst pygmies.”
Huddersfield and District Pensioners