The Socialist 14 December 2011
Tories speak for the rich, not for us
PDFs for this issue
Pensioners and workers - united fight needed
Terry Pearce, Thames Valley National Pensioners Convention (personal capacity)
When I addressed 2,000 striking public sector workers on 30 November in Reading, I brought greetings of solidarity and unity from the Thames Valley National Pensioners Convention (NPC). Public sector workers and those of us receiving the basic state pension are involved in the same struggle with the coalition government.
In their response to George Osborne's Autumn Statement, the NPC outlined the depth of the government attacks on the pensions and benefits of pensioners.
For example, the government's decision to link pension increases to the CPI index instead of the higher RPI index next April will cut pensions by between 15% to 20% over the next 20 years. Winter Fuel Allowances are being reduced in 2011 by £100 to £300 for householders over 80, by £50 to £200 for householders under 80, and then frozen at this level for the lifetime of this parliament.
The state pension retirement age is rising to 67 from April 2026 to 2028, this will affect about eight million workers born between April 1961 and April 1969. This will have a big effect, as the life expectancy gap between the richest and poorest can be as great as 17 years.
Last winter over 25,000 older people died from cold related illnesses, therefore the reduction in Winter Fuel Allowances and soaring heating costs from profiteering energy companies could lead to a hike in this figure.
Higher VAT, food prices and reductions in housing benefits are also bearing down heavily on those people trying to get by on the basic state pensions. It is vital to forge unity between all those fighting the coalition, young people, students, public and private sector workers as well as pensioners.
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