poverty fighter | 10.09.2003 14:34
While much indymedia uk attention is focussed on the events at DSEI, across the city, over 1000 pensioners have been massing at Parliament to demand their rights
Many of these pensioners are living on £70.00 a week, much less than the cost of the digital cameras many DSEI protests seem to have. It seems to me that only the young healthy, and often wealthy appear on indymedia, or even post on the boards. No shortge of sexy young women in carnival gear or young adults d-locking thenselves to the DLR, but no pensioners in raincoats eh?. Maybe its time for indymedia Techs/Posters to think outside of the box, that to question why despite their undoubted comittment, such events are rarely covered and often ignored. Could it possibly be the economic/cultural background and interests of indyfolk is determining what gets posted?. Imo, we have moved on from RTS and other spectaculars, the real hard work starts with the basics in the community. DSEI is important and good luck to them, but so is poverty, housing, crime, drugs etdc, but then it doesnt look as good in a tutu!
Pensioners lobby parliament
Pensioners marching at the rally
Pensioners are assembling outside the Houses of Parliament in central London to protest about the level of their incomes.
The lobby - organised by the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) - is timed to coincide with the first questions to the Prime Minister since the summer recess.
The protesters want a substantial increase in the basic state pension, which they say has been swallowed up by rising living costs and above-inflation council tax increases.
They are also unenthusiastic about the new pension credit.
Organisers say the event adds weight to the claim that the power of the "grey vote" is becoming more important.
The pensioners hope to argue their case with between 100 and 200 MPs.
The NPC wants the link between the state pension and earnings restored.
The link was broken in 1980 by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government.
If I had to sit at home and twiddle my thumbs all day because I couldn't afford to go out and enjoy myself, I honestly wouldn't want to go on living
Joining the pensioners' protest
If it had not been broken, a basic state pension for a single pensioner would be worth about £30 a week more than the current level, campaigners say.
They say this April's increase in the basic state pension of £1.92 a week for a single person has been completely swallowed up by big council tax rises.
However, the government says that in 2003/04 it will be spending about £8bn a year extra on pensioners as a result of policies it has introduced since 1997.
This is far more than pensioners would have received if the earnings link to the state pension had been restored, it says.
If the earnings link had not been ended in 1980, a single person would receive a basic state pension of £109 a week and a couple would get £174 a week
More on the basic state pension
The government also argues that the new Pension Credit will reduce inequalities between richest and poorest pensioners by targeting money at those who need it.
Pensioners Minister Malcolm Wicks said there were "hard choices" to make, but the government believed supporting the poorest pensioners was the best option.
"We're committed to maintaining the level of the basic pension, but given the poverty we inherited in old age, we think it's right to target the extra resources on the poorest," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
While pensioners are not expected to reverse the government's decision on its new pension credit, which will be launched on 6 October, pensioner protests have had some success in the past.
What better way to launch the government's new pensions credit than over a nice cup of tea?
Read more about the Pension Credit's launch
The government's decision to increase the basic state pension by 75p a week in April 2000, was greeted with an outcry from pensioners and eventually led to a government u-turn.
The basic state pension went up by £5 a week the following year for single pensioners and £8 for couples.
Rodney Bickerstaffe, NPC President, said: "The crisis in pensions is one that affects everyone and there is probably no more important domestic issue to millions of voters than how they will survive retirement.
"I hope the lobby will therefore highlight the need for a decent state pension as the best way of providing real security in retirement for all, both now and in the future."