CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM
Today the One Voice BackTo60 group published a report by me that they commissioned on the case for lowering the pension age from 65, to going on 66, to 60.
The idea is regarded by all main parties as impossible and prohibitively expensive and all conventional thinkers believe cannot be achieved.
They base their claims on growing longevity, that the national insurance fund which pays out pensions is in the red, that all of the rest of Europe is raising pensions and that the new pension age is an equality measure.
All these facts are WRONG. For the first time in the UK , the projected age when we die is FALLING in poorer areas.
The National Insurance Fund is in the black. The hardship that 50’s pensioners are facing today are a calculation to save the government putting up national insurance rates until 2030. If the government did restore the money owed to the 50s pensioners, it would still be in the black until well beyond 2020.
The tide has begun to turn in Europe against raising the pension age. Poland, a country much poorer than the UK but starting to catch up with us fast, has LOWERED the pension age from 62 to 60. France under Macron is considering whether to implement a pledge by former president Mitterand to lower the pension age from 62 to 60.
And the idea of having of having an equal pension age for men and women is only superficially equal because of a host of unequal measures that the 1950s generation has had to put up with since they were born – from not being able to get mortgages, lower pay, lower occupational pensions, expected to quit work for long periods to bring up a family etc etc.
So how can the 3.3 million women affected get a result. For a start they are many and the Establishment are few. Their sheer voting power is enough to change any general election result.
Then you have two official reports – one by the totally respected House of Commons library and the other the current five year review of the state of the national insurance fund.
You need to weaponise the facts contained in both those reports to your advantage.
The House of Commons library report contains an accompanying document that gives a breakdown of where you all are – by Parliamentary constituency. Check the MPs majority and target him or her to change their mind. MPs are always worried about being re-elected, play on their fears.
The NI fund reveals the money is there – but also reveals that a future generation of pensioners will suffer if wages don’t go up ( that automatically increases NI contributions) and also if immigration stops – the flow of young, healthy people to the UK who automatically pay into the NI fund increases resources for pensioners ( elderly people don’t come to the UK because of its cold damp, drizzly winters – they prefer sunny Spain or Portugal).
Then there are the political parties. Not a single mainstream party has a decent policy for you.
The Tories only plan further rises in the pension age and have no interest in helping you out.
The Labour Party’s works and pensions spokesperson Debbie Abrahams has a cost neutral proposal which reduces the age to 64 but gives you a reduced pension for life. Totally unsatisfactory.
The Liberal Democrat spokesman, Stephen Lloyd, has an idea of giving everyone of you £15,000 tax free – a sticking plaster plan. How can you live on £15,000 for six years in some cases?
Put very simply you can explain to the Tories that they are in government because of older people’s votes. Tell them you won’t for them and very likely they won’t be in government.
You can influence Labour by targeting its huge membership of nearly 570,000. This means that even in constituencies where there is a big Tory majority – there is often now a big local Labour Party. For example my constituency Hertfordshire South West ( incidently the safe seat of David Gauke, the former works and pensions secretary) has 800-900 members. Lobby them, get them to put up a motion to the next party conference and get the Labour Party to change its policy.
You can also influence the Liberal Democrats – who now have more members than the Tories – and the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists to do the same thing.
Show them you are not going away and redress the shabby treatment you have received and win the argument.