An "army of pensioners" to protest reforms

State pensions under threat
State pensions under threat

The National Pensioners Convention have called for a rally in London to protest propsed pension reforms, the BBC have reported.

Submitted by Ramona on October 25, 2006

Pensioners are to protest over planned reforms which they say will not help people already struggling to pay bills.

The National Pensioners Convention - organiser of the central London rally - says the Pensions White Paper contains "nothing of immediate benefit".

It will call for the link between earnings and pensions to be restored immediately, and for a £30 a week rise in the state pension, to £114.50.

The government said its initiatives had helped lift millions out of poverty.

The NPC said an "army of pensioners" would lobby Parliament and present a petition to Downing Street.

Earlier this year, the government announced in its White Paper that it would restore the link between basic state pensions and average earnings - meaning bigger annual increases - but not for at least six years.

The link was abolished under the Conservative government in 1980.

The government also said it would make it easier for people to qualify for the full basic state pension, but not until 2010.

National Pensioners Convention

The NPC said an average of 500,000 pensioners would die every year before the reinstatement of the link to earnings.

Campaigners claim if the link had not been abolished, the basic state pension would be about £136 a week compared with the current £84.25.

Joe Harris, general secretary of the NPC, said: "Already one in five older people live below the poverty line and millions more are being forced into hardship by rising fuel and council tax bills.

"Yet the government has been breathtakingly complacent on the issue, by refusing to substantially increase the basic state pension and delaying the restoration of the link between pensions and earnings until at least 2012."

He said the National Insurance Fund was so large every pensioner could have a pension of at least £114 for a number of years.

'Better off'

However, the Department for Work and Pensions said tackling pensioner poverty "has been our first priority".

"Since 1997 initiatives such as Pension Credit have helped to lift more than two million pensioners out of absolute poverty and a million people out of relative poverty," said a spokesman.

"Today, no pensioner should be living on less than £114 per week, compared to £69 per week 10 years ago."

He said tax and benefit changes meant average pensioner households were £26 a week better off.

The government's proposed "bold reforms" would give people more generous provision from the state and establish a new culture of retirement saving, he added.