- 2008 Retired Members' Conference
- 14 October 2008
Conference notes the work that was undertaken by UNISON to mark the centenary of the May 1908 Old Age Pensions Act. This highlighted the proud role that trade unions played in the struggle to establish the older generation’s right to an adequate income and dignity in their later years.
As a result of the Act, over half a million people received the first state pension on 1st January 1909. The first state pension was five shillings a week which represented about 20 to 25% of average earnings and was seen by the pioneers of the day as a first instalment towards a better pension in the future.
However, Conference is deeply concerned that nearly 100 years later, many of today’s older generation now struggle to make ends meet, as the gap between pensioners’ cost of living and the basic state pension continues to grow. This is illustrated by the fact that over 2 million older people are entitled to means-tested support of £124 a week, and even more live below the official poverty line.
Conference further notes that like a century ago, the poorest of today’s pensioners are also women; the vast majority of whom receive less than a full state pension as many were unable to pay their national insurance contributions because of caring for their families, and being in low paid or part-time employment.
Conference believes that nearly 100 years after it was paid for the first time, there is still a need to improve state pension provision.
Conference therefore requests that the National Retired Members’ Committee and National Executive Council:
i.Support the campaign being run by the NPC, SPF and TUC, STUC during 2008;
ii.Continue its efforts to restore the real value of the state pension;
iii.Work with the Fawcett Society, the National Pensioners Convention and the TUC to improve women’s pension entitlement.