A manifesto for older people: Have your say on October 30

Members of the NPC lobbied the Houses of Parliament in October last year
Members of the NPC lobbied the Houses of Parliament in October last year

Older people are not responsible for the present economic crisis.

Older people are not responsible for the present economic crisis. Nor are they having an easy time while the rest of the population suffers austerity. Older people have the same share of people in poverty as the rest of the population. And many are vulnerable to cold and illness.

In the winter of 2012-2013 - the latest for which we have figures - 30,000 pensioners were killed by the cold.

Sometimes, it is forgotten how much pensioners contribute to our society. It is estimated they pay £45 billion in tax every year. Increasingly, older people are providing more unpaid childcare to their grandchildren to keep their parents at work and are providing an army of volunteers to keep many services afloat.

Pensioners share the same concerns as all adults. Recent data from the British Social Attitudes survey showed all age-groups rated health and education as their top priorities for public spending. Older people, too, share with the young concerns about the environment and peace.

There are, however, some immediate concerns for older people that will undoubtedly affect how they vote. The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has developed its own manifesto for next year’s general election, from contributions from Brighton and Hove, and from all over Britain.

The NPC is a non-party-political campaigning organisation representing pensioners in the United Kingdom. It is calling for:

a basic state pension for all set above the poverty line of £175 a week;

increases in pensions linked to the best of inflation, increase in average earnings, or 2.5%;

universal pensioners’ benefits (bus pass, winter fuel allowance, free TV licences for over-75s, and free prescriptions to be maintained without means-testing);

a National Health and Social Care Service that is free at the point of use and funded through taxation;

a legally-binding Dignity Code to improve quality and standards of care for older people.

The NPC Brighton and Hove Pensioners Action Group and many other interested people will question parliamentary candidates from the three main political parties on their national and local policies at the Brighthelm Centre on Thursday, October 30. Will they match up to what pensioners say they want after the next national and local elections?

The most important aim is to increase the state pension to move towards normal European standards, but pensioners are angry about the possibility of losing or having reduced their universal benefits – benefits that make life more bearable for so many older people.

The candidates chosen by the political parties are: Davy Jones, the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown; Nancy Platts, Labour Party parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown; and Clarence Mitchell, the Conservative Party parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion.

They will be questioned by the audience about how their policies for elders compare with the NPC and also on more local and national policies of interest to everybody - for example, the NHS.

Before the meeting, however, Brighton and Hove Independent has agreed to publish statements from each of them about their policies for older people.

Older people are more inclined to vote than the rest of the population. There is, however, a danger that - because some ill and infirm people are not able to demonstrate - that they are ignored.

The NPC in Brighton and Hove intends to show that pensioners are not passive and that those of us who are capable will campaign to maintain existing rights and to improve the conditions of all people in the city and beyond.

A manifesto for older people: The NPC meeting, supported by Brighton and Hove Independent, will be at the Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton, at 6.30pm on Thursday, October 30.