Right of Reply

The president of the National Pensioners Convention replies to yesterday's article by John Walsh
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The Independent Culture
RATHER THAN being a "moth-eaten tribe" (John Walsh, 21 July), our generation of retired people has anger, passion, intelligence and courage. It is tired of hearing the same ageist assumptions trotted out while its real concerns are ignored, and is prepared to fight for them.

We have campaigned for many years for better state pensions. Since 1980 the basic pension has been linked only to prices (rather than average earnings) and pensioners have lost out by approximately pounds 26 per week as a result. Surely, people need adequate incomes if they are to participate fully in society.

The basic pension is pounds 66.75 per week - obtained after a lifetime of national insurance contributions. This is lower than means-tested income support, pounds 75. An increase of the pension to at least pounds 75 would be affordable, and a step in the right direction.

When a pensioner reaches 80 years old he or she is rewarded with an addition to the old age pension of 25 pence. This is insulting. We argue that an extra pounds 20 a week at age 75 would be far more adequate.

We are also angry that the care of older people in hospital is often inferior to that received by younger people. We are appalled that people are being forced to sell their homes to pay for long-term care. We are dismayed that there is still no national concessionary fare scheme on public transport, upon which so many pensioners rely.

These are just a few of the concerns for which we are fighting. We are determined that the voice of older people will be heard and their concerns dealt with. In May we had 2,000 delegates at our Pensioner Parliament in Blackpool - bigger than the attendance at some party conferences. Not bad for a "moth-eaten generation".

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