Commission on Social Justice: Minimum wage warning for Labour as party urged to adopt student loans: Fight for pensioners' rights

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The Independent Online
Alan Mumford, 73, and his wife Gladys, 68, at home in Canvey Island, Essex, where they live on state pensions of pounds 80.25 and pounds 35.55 - which puts them slightly above the basic pension level for pensioners, writes Glenda Cooper.

But Mr Mumford feels so strongly that pensioners' rights are being whittled away that he went to the Tory party conference in Bournemouth earlier this month, as part of the Pensioners' Rights Campaign, to tell ministers his views.

'We can't get any help at all, we're living on the basic,' he said. 'If we had pounds 15 a week less we could apply for all sorts of assistance.' The couple lead a spartan life with their only treat a visit to the pensioners' social club once a week.

Mr Mumford said medical care is their most difficult problem, although they are also fearful about VAT being levied on fuel consumption. 'We don't know what's going to happen now it's winter. We'll get about 70p compensation a week, but what difference will that make?' he said.

The commission's recommendations mean that the Mumfords would be guaranteed a minimum pension paid above the state pension and income support level. It would also want future pensioners to avoid the situation the Mumfords are in -surviving on one pension - by making sure that pensioners have two pensions through the state earnings-related pension scheme (Serps), occupational or private schemes, with the Government paying for those who are unemployed, ill, or caring for others.

(Photograph omitted)

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