Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Pensioners' Manifesto: three more candidates give their views

We are happy to report that the Lancaster District Pensioners' Campaign Group (LDPCG) has received 3 further replies from prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) to letters sent to them by Eric Jones on behalf of LDPCG on 12 February, asking for support for the National Pensioners' Manifesto. The Manifesto's main policies are:

  • A basic state pension for all elderly people, set above the poverty level of £175 a week
  • Increases in pensions to be linked to the best of RPI, CPI, earnings or 2.5%
  • Universal pensioner benefits (bus pass, winter fuel allowance, free TV licences for the over-75s and free prescriptions) to be maintained without means-testing
  • A National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through taxation
  • A legally binding Dignity Code to improve the quality and standards of care for older people

You can view and download the Pensioners' Manifesto in full at the National Pensioners' Convention website at http://npcuk.org/.

Three weeks ago (24 Feb) we reported that not a single prospective parliamentary candidate had bothered to respond yet (See 'Parliamentary candidates fail to respond to pensioners' group letter').

First responders
Following this the group received replies from Lancaster & Fleetwood candidates Cat Smith (Labour) and Robin Green (Lib Dem). They offered their positions on each of the Pensioners' Manifesto points and you can read them at: 'Labour and Lib Dem Candidates respond to pensioners' petition'.

New responders
The group have now received responses from Lancaster & Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw (Conservative) and from Green PPCs Phil Chandler (Morecambe & Lunesdale) and Chris Coates (Lancaster & Fleetwood. We have posted them in full below in the order in which they were received.

Ollerenshaw skips over NHS issue
Eric Ollerenshaw MP (Conservative), who is defending his seat, is the only PPC who failed to respond to one of the five Manifesto points, which seeks support for 'A National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through taxation'.  We have written back to bring this unfortunate oversight to his attention and to ask him if he'd like another chance to share his views on the manifesto's NHS policy. We'll let you know if we hear anything. Mr Ollerenshaw will turn 65 himself next week, which will qualify him for the basic state pension of £113 a week and membership of LDPCG should he choose to apply.
(Update: 19.3.15 Mr Ollerenshaw has now provided a response, which you can read here.)

Here are the three new replies the LDPCG received:

Response from Phil ChandlerGreen Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Morecambe & Lunesdale


Margaret,                               (Margaret is Mrs Jones - LDPCG uses her email account - ed)

Thank you for the letter and manifesto.  Like probably many Green candidates I have been holding
off replying until after our Spring Conference as some of our policies around this area were being tightened up at the conference.  To address the points of your manifesto:

Phil Chandler
Green Party PPC Morecambe & Lunesdale
A basic state pension for all, set above the poverty level of £175 a week:
The Green Party is committed to introducing a Basic ’Citizens’ Income scheme that would apply to
everyone to cover an individual's basic needs. This would replace tax-free allowances and most social security benefits. A Basic Income scheme is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income payable to each individual as a right of citizenship. It will not be subject to means testing and there will be no requirement to be either working or actively seeking work. This would apply equally to those at current pension age and would be set at a level where no one would be worse off than they are on current levels of benefits and pension.
For more information on the Basic Income see our website:
http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ec.html#EC721

Increases in pensions to be linked to the best of RPI, CPI, earnings or 2.5%:
The plan would for this to be so during the next parliament under a Green government.

Universal pensioner benefits (bus pass, winter fuel allowance, free TV licences for the over75s and free prescriptions) to be maintained without means-testing:
I agree that such things should not be means tested, although of course the longer-term plan would for this, where appropriate, to be rolled in to an adequate Basic Income.

A National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through taxation:
We are fundamentally committed to an NHS free at the point of use and we would repeal the Health and Social Care Act, which is damaging and threatening the viability of a fully funded health service.
Further than this we think that as health care and social care are increasingly merged that the same principles that apply to the NHS need to apply to social care – namely that it should also be free at the point of use. I believe that to be a decent, humane, caring society, social care should made free and in the next parliament we would start by introducing free social care of all those over 65s. We would also stop the pernicious practice of forcing people to sell their homes to pay for care.

A legally binding Dignity Code to improve the quality and standards of care for older people:
I think this would be a good idea.

Further details of our policies on older people can be found on our website here: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/sw.html

Regards
Phil Chandler
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Green Party, Morecambe & Lunesdale

Response from Chris Coates

Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood


Dear Eric Jones and the Lancaster District Pensioners Campaign,

Chris Coates
Green Party PPC Lancaster & Fleetwood
Please find below answers to your questions contained in the Pensioners Manifesto – I have been waiting for our conference this last weekend before I replied as we had new proposals that were coming forward on social care that were not agreed as part of our manifesto until the conference.

Your Pensioners Manifesto asked if we supported:

A basic state pension for all, set above the poverty level of £175 a week
The Green Party is committed to introducing a Basic ’Citizens’ Income scheme that would apply to everyone to cover an individual's basic needs .This would replace tax-free allowances and most social security benefits. A Basic Income scheme is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income payable to each individual as a right of citizenship. It will not be subject to means testing and there will be no requirement to be either working or actively seeking work. This would apply equally to those at current pension age and would be set at a level where no one would be worse off than they are on current levels of benefits and pension.
For more information on the Basic Income see our website: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ec.html#EC721

Increases in pensions to be linked to the best of RPI, CPI, earnings or 2.5%
Yes throughout the next parliament.

Universal pensioner benefits (bus pass, winter fuel allowance, free TV licences for the over75s and free prescriptions) to be maintained without means-testing
I agree

A National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through taxation
We are fundamentally committed to an NHS free at the point of use and we would repeal the Health and Social Care Act, which is damaging and threatening the viability of a fully funded health service.
Further than this we think that as health care and social care are increasingly merged that the same principles that apply to the NHS need to apply to social care – namely that it should also be free at the point of use. I believe that to be a decent, humane, caring society, social care should made free and in the next parliament we would start by introducing free social care of all those over 65s.
We would also stop the pernicious practice of forcing people to sell their homes to pay for care.

A legally binding Dignity Code to improve the quality and standards of care for older people
I would be happy to support the creation of a Dignity Code

Further details of our policies on older people can be found on our website here: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/sw.html

Yours Sincerely
Chris Coates,
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood
North Lancashire Green Party

Response from Eric Ollerenshaw

Conservative MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood


Dear Mr Jones,

Eric Ollerenshaw MP
Conservative
Lancaster & Fleetwood
Thank you for contacting me about the National Pensioners Convention's 2015 Pensioner Manifesto, please accept my apologies in not replying sooner to you and the Lancaster District Pensioners’ Campaign Group.

Ensuring that pensioners have a decent and secure income in retirement is a Govemment priority. Ministers have introduced a triple lock on the State Pension, meaning that the basic State Pension is now at the highest percentage of earnings since 1992.

The lock guarantees that the State Pension Will rise by the higher of earnings, prices or 2.5 per cent. I appreciate you would like this to include a measure of RPI inflation. However, CPI provides a more appropriate measure of benefit and pension recipient's inflation experiences than RPI because it excludes the majority of housing costs faced by homeowners. With regards to the level of the basic State Pension, I am pleased that the new single tier pension will be set above the basic level of means-tested support and will continue to be uprated by the triple lock.

I believe that if you've worked hard during your life, saved, paid your taxes, and done the right thing, you deserve dignity when you retire. That's why I am glad that the Conservative Party is committed to protecting the Winter Fuel Payment, free bus passes, TV licences, prescriptions and eye tests for the next Parliament. I believe it is important to ensure that older people have dignity and security in
retirement.

Finally, I agree that the issues within the social care system have been ignored for too long. I am pleased that the new Care Act introduces a radical set of reforms which will transform the system of care and support in England. The Government is also getting tougher on those who deliver poor care. I am confident that these measures will ensure that older people receive the high quality, compassionate care they need.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Yours sincerely,
Eric Ollerenshaw OBE MP
Member of Parliament for Lancaster and Fleetwood



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