Pensioners pledge to fight on

A PENSIONER group would have joined a national rally protesting at their falling incomes – but could not afford the coach fare to London.Suffolk Pensioners' Association (SPA) balked at the £400 cost of hiring a coach to travel to yesterday'sprotests at Westminster.

A PENSIONER group would have joined a national rally protesting at their falling incomes – but could not afford the coach fare to London.

Suffolk Pensioners' Association (SPA) balked at the £400 cost of hiring a coach to travel to yesterday'sprotests at Westminster.

They decided to stay away despite the National Pensioners' Convention (NPC) offering to subsidise their trip.

Jack Thain, chairman of the SPA, said: "There are individuals going down but we couldn't afford to raise £400 for a coach.


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"The NPC was prepared to pay some, I don't know how much, but if they were offering it to every group it could not be too much.

"It's a bit ironic when the rally is about declining incomes but it was too much money. We will be supporting it from afar."

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Mr Thain, from Lowestoft, said there was a coach party travelling from Norfolk, which is a longer journey to the capital.

He added the group, which has 7,000 members, would be keeping up the pressure on local MPs.

"They won't know what has hit them," he said. "The situation for us is getting worse and worse. If only they gave us a decent pension, we will be able to pay our way."

He added: "I have been up to London several times and I used to pay all my own fares. It cost something like £40, and that's a lot out of £77.50 a week on my pension."

More than 1,000 pensioners gathered at the House of Commons for the mass lobby to demand higher state pensions.

The event, organised by the NPC, brought together OAPs from all over the country, who attended private meetings with their local MPs at Westminster Hall.

Between 100 and 200 politicians had agreed to listen to their constituents' concerns at the lobby, the NPC said.

Rodney Bickerstaffe, NPC president, said: "The vast majority of pensioners rely on the state pension for the bulk of their income, so if it loses its value they end up sinking further and further into debt and poverty.

"Since 1980, when the link with earnings was broken, the state pension has fallen by £30 a week, and increases in the costs of living, such as council tax and utilities bills, have swallowed up what little extra in the state pension there was.

"The Government says it wants to end pensioner poverty, but continues to go about it the wrong way through means testing.

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