Improvements to the State Pension

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Conference
2010 Retired Members' Conference
Date
10 June 2010
Decision
Carried as Amended

Conference is concerned at the ever-increasing discrepancy between the basic state pension and the poverty threshold. In 2009 the NPC’s figures state that the poverty threshold is £165 pw whilst the basic state pension is £97.25 pw, a discrepancy of £65.75 pw. Much of the blame for this can be laid at the door of the Thatcher government of the 1980s which severed the link between pensions and earnings thus condemning pensioners for more than 2 decades to less and less money in real terms. The situation has now been further exacerbated by the restriction of the percentage increase in April 2010 being applied to the basic state pension only.

Conference notes that in 2001 with the invasion of Afghanistan and in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq seemingly unlimited sums of money running into billions of pounds have been found to prosecute these questionable wars whilst pensioners are left to endure ever greater poverty with no sign of this situation being addressed by any administration. Furthermore many EU countries pay significantly greater proportions of average working pay to their pensioners than the UK. The EU average is 60% with at least seven paying well above this level including Italy at 67.9% and-Spain at 81.2%. Even Estonia at 32.9% pays a greater percentage than the UK which lags behind at 30.8%.

Conference believes that this situation cannot be allowed to continue and that UNISON should be at the forefront of a campaign to remedy this anomaly once and for all and to use all means possible to try to ensure that all pensioners receive a decent living pension based on real costs, the poverty threshold and if appropriate the EU average of 60% of average earnings, any increase based on cost of living should be based on a special “Pensioners Basket” or at the very least on the Retail Prices Index (RPI) and not on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Conference therefore instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to:

i. liaise with the National Executive Council (NEC) and Labour Link to progress the payment of a state pension of at least the official poverty threshold linked to average earnings or a special pensioners basket or RPI whichever is the greater;

ii. liaise with the NEC over working with the Trades Union Congress throughout the UK about a coordinated campaign to involve all trades unions including legitimate civil action if needed;

iii. investigate the viability of a British model based on the New Zealand Citizen Pension Scheme;

iv. urge all retired members to write to their MPs seeking their support for the payment of a pension as defined in I above;

v. publicise this matter through all available channels;

vi. report back to Retired Members’ Conference 2011.