- Tuesday, 10 July 2012
Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has criticised a speech by Conservative MP Nick Boles and pledged to fight any plans to withdraw or means-test universal benefits such as the free bus pass or the winter fuel allowance.
Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: “This idea that the country’s economy is struggling because an army of millionaire pensioners are joy riding with their free bus passes is absolute nonsense.
"The economic crisis is being used as an excuse to undermine the welfare state and roll back some of our hard earned gains – many of which are necessary because the UK has one of the worse state pensions in Europe.
"The truth is that every year pensioners contribute £40bn to society in the form of taxes, voluntary work and unpaid caring.
"Removing the bus pass from everyone would raise just £1bn, but would lead to increased isolation and social exclusion amongst the elderly; ultimately costing more in the long run with higher demands on social services and the NHS. Mr Boles’s figures just don’t add up. He may have grabbed a headline, but he’s definitely lost the plot.”
“Somehow there is a suggestion that these benefits are luxuries we cannot afford – but the total cost is tiny compared to what we have spent on bailing out the banks, conducting wars and the unnecessary reorganisation of the NHS.
"If we start means-testing pensioners we will create a costly and inefficient bureaucracy which evidence shows will result in those who need it most failing to come forward to make a claim.
"Mr Boles’s idea would basically take away all support from anyone on more than £10,500 a year and only a politician could suggest that a pensioner on that sort of money was well off.
"Any political party that goes to the next election promising to take away the bus pass and the winter fuel allowance from 11m older voters will face oblivion at the ballot box.”
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