RISING costs and rampant price inflation are leaving half of older people living on the breadline.
According to the AGE UK charity nearly half are just ‘getting by’, while one in ten admit they are really struggling.
Pensioners spend a larger percentage of their budget on food and fuel. Over the last year the cost of food has shot up by 6.2 per cent and energy has increased by 4.2 per cent.
1.8 million pensioners live in poverty, and many thousands more are struggling just above the breadline.
One in ten pensioners reports having outstanding debts such as a mortgage, credit card or bank loan, with levels of debt being higher among younger pensioners.
The Age UK survey also revealed that nearly one in five pensioners had cut back on their heating over the winter months in order to make ends meet. 25,000 older people died during the winter months in recent years.
As much as £5.4 billion in pensioner benefits goes unclaimed each year: just under half of all pensioners are entitled to pension credit, but a third of people don’t claim it; up to 1.97 million pensioners are still missing out on council tax benefit worth £1.5 billion per year.
The reality is that the worldwide capitalist crisis and the coalition’s policies are worsening the conditions of pensioners on a daily basis.
In fact, the March budget saw Chancellor Osborne cutting £100 from the pensioners’ winter fuel allowance, at a time when gas and electricity bills are rising.
The over 60s will lose the additional payments, which were introduced in 2008, to help heat their homes while domestic fuel bills are rising. The elderly have been able to claim £250 towards winter fuel bills, while those aged 80 or over could claim £400. These winter payments will be reduced to £200 and £300 per household.
This is despite the fact that the cost of domestic fuel bills has risen 38 per cent since 2008!
After the experience of the super-cold December 2010, pensioners will receive less next winter than they did last winter and, consequently, many more will die.
The cuts in the value of pensions is an aid for another government policy – to get the elderly to work longer.
The coalition plan is that millions of employees are to see their retirement pushed back at least 12 months, every two years, after Osborne announced plans to link the pension age to rising longevity.
In a move intended to cut the expenditure on pensions, the Chancellor announced in the budget a mechanism to raise the state retirement age automatically in line with life expectancy.
Osborne has said that in future, regular, independent reviews should establish longevity rates, which will be used to decide the state pension age.
Pensioners definitely need defending from this bankers and bosses government. While the poor die on the job, the bosses will continue to retire at 55!
In fact, the pensionable age must be reduced to 60 for all. Between annual increases the pension must rise monthly in line with any increases in the RPI inflation rate, so as to preserve the value of the pension.
Forms for claiming pension credit and other benefits which are currently constructed to deter claimants, must be re-written to make claiming a simple matter.
The elderly who built this country must be able to retire early and in comfort. If capitalism cannot provide for this, it must go and be replaced by socialism.
The first step in defending the elderly must be for the trade unions to bring down the Tory-led coalition in order to bring in a workers government that will carry out socialist policies.