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2021 Virtual Retired Members Conference
29 June 2021
Carried as Amended

Conference will recall that prior to the covid crisis there had been a series of 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 scrapping of free TV licences for over 75’s;

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.

Before the covid crisis, the most costly expense experienced by the country was the 2008 crash. Conference will recall that the cost of bailing out the financial system was eventually borne overwhelmingly by those least responsible for it and least able to pay. UNISON’s retired members are concerned that the proposal by the Social Market Foundation to scrap the triple lock on pensions is a foretaste of policies to come. To ask the older generation to face cuts in their income, before making proposals to limit higher pay or imposing taxes on extreme wealth.

Such proposals take no account of the fact that the old are already paying disproportionately with their lives, as the Covid mortality rate is significantly higher in the over 70’s. UNISON’s retired members believe that this is a thinly disguised attempt to force those who have already contributed throughout their younger lives to pay twice.

Conference rejects this attempt to divide generations, by setting younger people against retired people.

Instead we should be opposed to any attempts to introduce a new era of austerity and be committed to introducing measures to bring about a fair and equal society in the post-covid world.

Conference therefore calls on the National Retired Members’ Committee to work with the National Executive Council and all appropriate bodies to:

I)To defend retired members from attacks on their standard of living; and

II. To promote the key importance of public services and public service workers to stimulate and ensure a healthy economy, as well as providing the essential services that so many older people rely on.