Letter: Pensioners betrayed

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Sixty years ago saw the outbreak of the Second World War on 3 September 1939. We emerged victorious with many lives lost, the country virtually bankrupt and much of our nation destroyed by aerial bombardment.

The survivors rebuilt the country, formed the welfare state and the National Health Service and offered free education to all our children, willingly paying their tax and National Insurance contributions for the new postwar Britain.

Those survivors are today's pensioners. Nearly three-quarters of them live below the government benchmark defining poverty. The value of their weekly state pension - pounds 66.75 for a single person, pounds 106.70 for a couple - declines year-on-year. They are subjected to increasing means-testing and those reaching the age of 80 are given a derisory 25p a week as an age allowance.

On this anniversary, surely the Government will accede to the proposal by Age Concern, Help the Aged and the National Pensioners' Convention for an increase in the state pension to pounds 75 a week and restoration of the earnings link.

This proposal, which would redeem Mr Blair's election promise of pensioners sharing in the nation's prosperity, has been costed and proven affordable.

The Government should act now. Time is not on the side of our senior citizens.



Churchdown, Gloucestershire