Greens call for a state pension of £170 per week

31 March 2010

The Green Party today launched its Older People's Pledge for the 2010 general election (1) - with, at its heart, the promise of support for the National Pensioners' Convention's demand for a £170-a-week basic state pension.

The Greens will be launching their Older People's Pledge around the country as part of their general election campaign, but today the Greens unveiled the pledge in London.

Darren Johnson, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Lewisham Deptford, met with members of Deptford Action Group for the Elderly at the launch in his constituency.

Darren Johnson said:

"After a lifetime of hard work and contributing to society, pensioners deserve better than having to scrape by on an inadequate state pension. It's only fair that the basic state pension should be enough to live on - that is why Greens would make sure that all pensioners receive a non-means-tested £170 per week, as well as free social care for all who need it, as is currently offered in Scotland."

The figure of £170 per week is calculated as the minimum required to keep the basic state pension above the official poverty line, according to the National Pensioners' Convention, in its Pensioners' Manifesto, which calls for a range of measures to improve conditions for older people (2).

A spokesman for the NPC said today:

"The NPC welcomes the Green Party's commitment to improving the basic state pension for Britain's 11 million older voters and hopes that other parties will see the economic and moral sense in tackling pensioner poverty. This is something no political party should ignore."

The Greens have spelled out how the £170 basic state pension would be funded (3).

 

End the default retirement age, say Greens

In addition to raising pensioners above the poverty line, the Green Party's Older People's Pledge promises to end the default retirement age, so that people would have the freedom to go on working and contributing to society if they wished to, free from discrimination on the basis of age.

Michelle Mitchell, Age Concern and Help the Aged's Charity Director, said:

"We welcome the Green Party's focus on older people and desire to address the challenges of ageing as we head towards the general election. Abolishing the default retirement age and increasing the basic state pension are absolutely key to improving the retirement prospects for millions of older people."

The Green Party has also pointed out that under its policy of free insulation for every home in Britain, pensioners would benefit from warmer homes and would be less reliant on winter fuel payments.

 

Notes

1. The Green Party's Older People's Pledge is below in full.

2. The NPC's Pensioners' Manifesto can be downloaded here: www.npcuk.org/publications.htm.

3. There are roughly 12 million pensioners living in the UK and a further 1 million living abroad. Paying a single rate of £170 per week, and a couples rate of £300 per week, will cost £110bn per year. The current basic state pension, plus certain other specific pensioner benefits like Pensions Credits paid to those of pension age (which would become redundant if the basic pension rate was raised to the level we propose) costs £70bn. For the remaining £40 billion, the Green Party would abolish tax relief on pension contributions (£20 billion), and the national insurance rebate on employer and employee contributions to private pension schemes (£19 billion). The final £1 billion would come from increased income tax receipts from pensioners.

4. In 2009-10, the full basic State Pension is £95.25 a week. For a married couple who both qualify, it is £190.50 a week. From April 6 2010, these figures will rise by 2.5%.

 

--

Our Older People's Pledge:

Reasons for older people to vote Green

Green Party 2010 general election policy briefing

Contact Spencer Fitz-Gibbon at Green Party press office, 020 7561 0282, press@greenparty.org.uk

--

1. Introduction

1.1 It is shameful that Britain's state pensioners, 2 million of whom still live in poverty, are effectively penalised for having savings or private pensions. Meanwhile, grandparents who provide childcare worth £3.9 billion a year, many spending three days a week caring for grandchildren, receive no recognition for their contribution to society. To make matters worse, over-complicated, intimidating, and humiliating means testing is so off-putting that pensioners are leaving up to £2.9 billion of council tax benefits unclaimed.

1.2 The other parties have made a few token gestures to older people, but the Green Party alone is committed to making Britain a better place to age in.

1.3 The Green Party wants:

To end the over complex pension credit system and ensure a decent basic pension for everyone of £170 a week which would be linked to national earnings.

Free insulation to help fight fuel poverty.

Free personal and nursing care for all older people.

Freedom for older people to work.

 

2. The Green Party's pledge to older people

2.1 The Green Party would end the over-complex pension credit system and ensure a decent basic pension for everyone of £170 a week, which would be linked to national earnings. We would replace the current system with a simple standard rate pension of £170 per week, ensuring no older person falls below the poverty line, and get rid of complex means testing. By linking pensions to real national earnings we would ensure that pensions are kept up to date and do not fall behind the rates of inflation or economic growth.

2.2 For many older people rising fuel costs for heating are a real problem. The Green Party would help fight fuel poverty with a programme of free insulation for every UK home.

2.3 The Green Party would ensure free personal and nursing care for all older people. So many older people are burdened with huge fees to care for themselves or their loved ones. We believe this is unfair, so the Green Party would ensure that the NHS and care services are fully equipped to deal with our ageing population.

2.4 The Green Party would ensure that older people who want or need to work can do so, easily. The Green Party supports a pensionable age of 65, but feels that people ought to have the freedom to go on working and contributing to society if they wish to, free from discrimination on the basis of their age. We would end the default retirement age and ensure that employment and skills support to allow older workers to cope with the recession was in place.

2.5 The Green Party would make Britain a good place to age in. The Green Party would introduce measures to make everyday life easier for older people at home, and fight for their rights at an international level, pursuing a bill of rights for older people. We would save our much needed local post offices, and work to make the transport system more accessible and easier to use.

 

The Green Party wants:

To end the over complex pension credit system.

To ensure a decent basic pension for everyone of £170 a week which would be linked to national earnings.

Free insulation to help fight fuel poverty.

Free personal and nursing care for all older people.

Freedom for older people to work.

 






Back to main news page