Austerity – Defending living standards for older p

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2019 National Retired Members Conference
1 January 2019

Conference recalls how concerned we were last year about the Intergenerational Commission’s final report published in April 2018. Conference notes, now, that the report’s publication has foreshadowed a series of further attacks on older people’s entitlements and standards of living including:

1) The Taxpayers’ Alliance’s report, Pensions Inequality, issued in August 2018 calling for an end to defined benefit pensions for public service workers; the Taxpayers’ Alliance has since called for the freezing of state pensions;

2) The BBC’s announcement on 11 September 2018 that it would consult on the future of free TV licences for over 75’s and may scrap them:

3) The Intergenerational Foundation’s report, “Baby-boomers’ concessions: How ticket discounts for a wealthier generation reinforce unfairness”, issued on 17 September 2018, attacking senior discounts at visitor attractions and proposing, instead, free entry for people on Pension Credit and ‘Bring a Granny’ schemes;

4) The ‘Toyboy Tax’, announced on 14 January 2019. From 15 May this has started to deprive couples of Pension Credit and Housing Benefit if one partner is over state pension age and the other under that age. They must apply for Universal Credit instead, typically making a couple £7,000 a year worse off; and,

5) The House of Lords report, “Tackling intergenerational unfairness” released on 25 April 2019 which recommends:

A. Scrapping the Triple Lock mechanism for raising the State Retirement Pension;

B. Abolishing the free TV licence for over 75 year olds;

C. Delaying the Winter Fuel Allowance and Bus Pass until 5 years after Retirement Age;

D. Regarding the Winter Fuel Allowance and Bus Pass as taxable income;

E. Subjecting people over the State Retirement Pension age to National Insurance payments.

Conference rejects this attempt to divide generations, by setting younger people against retired people. Although accompanied by crocodile tears shed for young people, these attacks come not from the young but from the rich, who contend there is not enough money to go around because the baby-boomers have run off with it.

Rather, Conference asserts, there is plenty of money to go around. What makes it appear otherwise and the reason we are being set against one another is that, over the last forty years, the proportion of the United Kingdom’s gross domestic product going to wages has dropped from 65% to less than half with correspondingly more going to rent, interest and profit. It is a question of class not age. The most effective way for UNISON to defend older people from these attacks is to make solidarity between generations a key part of its strategy to oppose austerity and to develop a strategy against austerity that mobilises many more older people.

Conference opposes these proposals and calls upon the National Retired Members’ Committee to campaign vigorously against them by all appropriate means.

Conference instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to develop proposals to raise with the National Executive Council for implementation by the whole union which will both:

i) Enable UNISON as a whole to support efforts to defend retired members from attacks on their standard of living; and

ii) Mobilise the retired members’ organisation to make a greater contribution to UNISON’s campaign to end austerity.


City of Wolverhampton