Why the shabbily treated 50’s women pensioners must go on the offensive and win back their money

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

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Time to get MPs to back the case of the 50s Women pensioners who have lost out

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.

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One Voice The group that is challenging the government over the shabby treatment of 50s women.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuff the poor to help the elderly:Hunt moves to adopt Lansley’s bad plan for the NHS

Andrew Lansley: let’s kill off the poor to help the elderly

Update: The new NHS Commissioning Board announced this week it was proceeding with scrapping the existing formula from next April – by adopting a flat rate increase  for funding this year. It also announced it will ” conduct an urgent fundamental review of the approach to allocations, drawing on the expert advice of ACRA and involving all partners whose functions impact on outcomes and inequalities.” This will come into force in 2014-15.

In fact this will mean a redistribution to areas with large numbers of elderly people at the expense of poorer areas like the North East of England, Central Manchester  and Salford and the London borough of Tower Hamlets. All this will be in place for the run up to the next general election.

Fresh from creating chaos as part of his so-called NHS ” reforms” Andrew Lansley has let slip another dastardly plan to cope with the genuine burgeoning costs of a growing elderly population.

Basically it’s very simple: Take away  the NHS cash from the poorest parts of England and give to the relatively affluent seaside resorts and the suburbs.

I am indebted to hawk-eyed reporter David Williamson at the Health Services Journal ( behind a pay wall at http://bit.ly/K7dceG ) for spotting a virtually unreported speech in London during the Parliamentary recess to new commissioning bodies who will  be spending the NHS cash from next year.

He told them they “should be looking at what is in… population data that is likely to give rise to a demand for NHS services”.

“What is likely to make the biggest difference, therefore? Actually it’s elderly population, who were not in substantial deprivation”.

He added :“Some of the lowest spending on stroke and cancer services were in areas with high elderly populations such as Fylde and Eastbourne, places where there were quite a lot of older people who weren’t poor”.

What Lansley is proposing – and the Department of Health is helpfully not making his speech available on its website is seismic in NHS terms. Ever since Clement Attlee set up the NHS, its main aim has been to improve the life chances of the poor most of them die long  before affluent and middle classes.

The Royal College of Nursing in the North East and Newcastle MP former Labour minister, Nick Brown, have spotted exactly what it means.

As Glen Turp, regional director of the RCN put it: “It is well-known that in areas of social disadvantage, local populations experience higher incidents of heart disease, cancer, emphysema, diabetes, as well as a range of other diseases caused in part by our industrial history and the work that our communities undertook. Health outcomes are directly linked to poverty and inequality, and to use age as the measure rather than inequality is simply the wrong thing to do. ”

To ram home his point: “The shocking truth is that if you live in Chelsea and Westminster in London, a man can expect to live to 86 years of age. However, in Hendon, in Sunderland, male life expectancy is only 69. That’s a 17 year difference. It’s nothing short of obscene, and frankly that is what the NHS funding formula should be all about.”

For those interested in more details Tom Gorman has tweeted me a map – showing some of the changes – the link is http://goo.gl/dyuGe .

Lansley plans to be even nastier in the way he plans to implement it. He intends to deny the government is doing it by tipping the wink to a quango  – the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation which recommends how NHS budgets should be split up.

At the Conference, Lansley gave the game away: “The advisory committee will do this, I won’t— the number crunching should get progressively to a greater focus on what the actual determinants of health need” and that “Age is the principal determinant of health need”.

But there is also a cynical political side to this. By withdrawing money from poor areas, he can halt  the trend of living longer among mainly Labour voters, save the pension bill by ensuring that if they die off at 69 or even younger, they will in future not even need to receive a state pension.

But in the sunlight uplands of mainly Tory areas, the cuts that will inevitably come will be blunted or services improved in time for the 2015 election. And it won’t cost him an extra penny, all the money will be taken from Labour areas.

The formula is almost a Tory right winger’s wet dream.  Ed Miliband’s supporters dying off as they wait for operations in Labour seats, and the prospect of Tory and Liberal Democrat voters living longer and longer in Chelsea, Bournemouth, Eastbourne and Torquay.

Perhaps Mr Lansley should be told what we think of this. His emails are: lansleya@parliament.uk  and andrew.lansley@doh.gov.uk. If that fails perhaps the faceless people who sit on this quango, the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation, should be contacted. Interestingly, the Department of Health, has not updated their membership since 2008 and archived the list. Perhaps Mr Lansley doesn’t want us to know.

After all , should Mr Lansley be allowed to get away with literally killing off the opposition.