Hands off universal benefits

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Conference
2015 National Retired Members Conference
Date
11 June 2015
Decision

Conference opposes any attempts by Governments across the UK to cut universal benefits for older people such as the winter fuel payment, free bus pass, free prescriptions and free TV licences.

These benefits are essential to ensuring a decent standard of living and social inclusion for millions of pensioners who face daily poverty, fuel poverty and discrimination due to inadequate occupational and state pensions, as well as unequal access to public services including health and social care. They are essential to help keep older people independent and active.

Any reductions in these benefits will have an adverse effect on pensioners especially those who are already on the breadline. Pensioners need the bus pass, free health prescriptions and winter fuel payment, why because the state pension is nowhere near a living income.

Conference refutes the myths that:

1. All pensioners are wealthy. The reality is that the UK is ranked fourth out of 27 EU countries in relation to the risk of poverty amongst older people;

2. Pensioners are a burden on society. Research shows that the overall net contribution by older people to the UK economy is almost £40bn a year;

3. Means testing will help the neediest. All the evidence shows that means testing does not work for older people with over £5billion a year of means tested benefits going unclaimed, mostly by those who need them the most;

4. Older people have escaped the austerity measures. Over the past few years the Winter Fuel Payment has been frozen, personal tax allowances have been frozen; pensions have been indexed to a lower CPI measure of inflation (CPI); and the increase in the state pension age for women has been brought forward.

a. Conference instructs the National Retired Members Committee and calls on the National Executive Council to work with the National Pensioners Convention on their ‘Hands Off’ campaign’ in its struggle to defend universal benefits for older people.

b. This Conference further calls on the National Retired Members Committee to work with all relevant organisations to oppose any current and future attack on universal benefits and to ensure that this government is aware to keep their “hands off our universal benefits”.