Increase in the Basic State Pension

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2014 National Retired Members Conference
13 June 2014
Carried as Amended

Conference is very concerned that the Basic State Pension (BSP) has remained below the poverty level for many years. In April 2014, it was increased to £113.10 per week for a single pensioner, a rise of £2.95 per week. The National Pensioners Convention statistic for the poverty level is £175. The deficit of £64.90 is appalling! The BSP in the UK is still one of the lowest in Europe (4th from bottom) although we are the 7th richest nation in the world!

If the Retail Price Index (RPI) had still been in place, the increase would have been 3.2% instead of the September 2013 Consumer Price Index (CPI) rise of 2.7% (£2.95). For the calculation of CPI, the ‘basket’ of goods and services used should be more appropriate to pensioners and should not be a calculation for general use. The measure of inflation should return to RPI for uprating all pensions.

Means-testing pensioners for the Pension Credit Guarantee is continuing and for a single pensioner it rose from £145.40 per week to £148.35, an increase of £2.95. This indicates that the Government thinks that £148.35 is the amount pensioners need to live on.

The new Pension Bill became law on 14 May 2014 and means that the new BSP will not be less than £148.40 per week, the actual amount will be set in the autumn of 2015 and will be paid to ‘new’ pensioners. The present BSP is £113.10 and is £35.30 below this amount and CPI will be based on September 2014 inflation for the rise in the present 2014 BSP to be paid in 2015, it probably won’t be more than £3. Therefore, present pensioners will receive a BSP of, say, £116.10 but the ‘new’ pensioners will receive £148.40! How unfair is that?

Therefore, this UNISON National Retired Members Conference instructs the National Retired Members Committee and calls on the National Executive Council to:

1. campaign urgently for an increase in the Basic State Pension to at least the poverty level of £175 a week for a single pensioner and £325 for couples;

2. campaign for a return to annual increases in the Basic State Pension based on the Retail Price Index (RPI) or the annual increase in average earnings or an increase sufficient to ensure that the Basic State Pension is not lower than the poverty level, whichever is the greater.

3. take positive action to make our concerns known to the Government through LabourLink, national and regional branches of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), local Trades Councils, by lobbying MPs, and by supporting the National Pensioners Convention in their campaigns.

4. report regularly on progress to National Retired Members’Committee meetings and publicise on all appropriate communication channels, including the national UNISON website, U Magazine, In-Focus and E-Focus. The information must also be circulated to Regions and Branches.

5. report back to the 2015 National Retired Members Conference on action taken and actual achievements.