Socialist Worker

Pensions White Paper will do nothing to tackle our poverty

Dot Gibson, National Pensioners Convention vice president, made this statement in response to the White Paper

Issue No. 2003

Dot Gibson

Dot Gibson

‘The government’s failure to address the issues of pensioner poverty, unpopular means testing and the plight of five million existing women pensioners is the biggest whitewash of older people in the history of social policy.

One in five older people live below the official poverty level, and the vast majority of those are women. Around 87 percent of today’s women pensioners don’t get a full state pension because they lack 39 years of national insurance contributions and nothing in the White Paper will put that right.

The means tested pension credit that was supposed to tackle this problem has failed to reach 1.6 million older people who are eligible for help but don’t claim it.

By delaying the restoration of the link with earnings by another six years, the number of pensioners facing means testing is going to increase to nearly 50 percent.

A crisis exists in the current state pension system because at just £84.25 a week it is too low and despite the White Paper, it will continue to decline to around 11 percent of average earnings by 2012.

Today’s pensioners will therefore judge the White Paper by asking, “Will it raise immediately the state pension to £114 a week for everyone and restore its link to earnings?”

If the answer is “no”, millions of older people will feel the government’s so called greatest renewal of pensions will have turned into the greatest betrayal of Britain’s pensioners.

The best way to tackle pensioner poverty is to raise the basic state pension to at least £114 a week, then restore its link to earnings and pay it equally to all men and women.

The white paper has missed a golden opportunity to give today’s pensioners dignity and financial security in retirement.’

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Sat 3 Jun 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2003
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