NPC Lobby of Parliament 2017

Why we were lobbying parliament!

The Annual NPC Lobby of Parliament took place on Wednesday 18th October, with pensioners gathering to lobby Members of Parliament.

In recent years, various politicians, think tanks and media commentators have suggested that older people are the cause of many of the country’s problems, from shortage of housing to the lack of hospital beds.

Some have also argued that older generation has escaped austerity at the expense of the younger generation, despite the fact that older people are concerned about the future of their children and grandchildren. In reality Britain is not a great place to grow old, our state pension is among one of the least adequate in the western world and our social care system is in crisis with 1.8m people not getting the help they need and in the last five years leading to 100,000 pensioners dying from related illnesses .

The issues that the Members of the NPC were raising were to call on the Government to look at the NPC Manifesto on the following issues.

  1. We want a state pension which is set above the official poverty level, around £200 a week and linked to the triple lock of the higher of earnings, or2.5%
  2. There should be greater funding for the NHS, and an end to the privatisation in the health service with a national social care system that is funded from taxation, which would be free at the point of delivery and without means testing.
  3. The maintenance of universal benefits such as the free bus travel , a £500 winter fuel allowance, free prescriptions , and the free TV Licence for the over 75s.
  4. New legal protection for older people from all forms of Elder abuse, to ensure dignity and raise the standards of care.

After demonstrating outside in the rain the pensioners filed into Parliament to be addressed by guest speakers on issues that affect the pensioners of today.

Kelvin Hopkins MP was the first speaker to address the meeting. Kevin is the leader of the Parliament Pensioners Committee. Kelvin said, for years we have had the worst State Pension in Europe, and we have not looked after our pensioners. Pensions have got worse over the past few years with the collapse of many of the occupational pension schemes. He said many pensioners are having to rely on benefits to survive; we have to get a better State Pension and look to the future to achieve this. Kevin also spoke on the problem within the NHS, and the poor standards of care within the Community. There needs to be a rise in taxation to pay for services, the care system should be free to all at the point of need.

Alex Cunningham Shadow Pensions Minister. The minister spoke on the benefits of the Auto Enrolment scheme and that Labour wants to ensure that care workers and those who are self-employed are accommodated within the scheme. He went on to say that Labour will look at a variable state pension age to take into account those who are in manual labour and those in non-manual work. He also said they want to ensure that all pensioners living abroad will get the same increase in their pensions as those in the UK.

Dr. Lydia Hayes from Cardiff University. Dr. Hayes is an Employment Lawyer with an interest in the lower paid workers, and has been looking at the poor conditions of employment of those who are care workers and what can be done about it. She said this should include those who are unpaid carers. We need to find an agenda of shared interest to lobby for a system that is well funded and one we can be proud of, not one which we are ashamed of. She said social care has been ruined by the privatisation of care where companies are using the system to make money. Social care should be a matter of dignity, not a service that can be bought and sold on the basis of what an individual can afford. The care system should be funded by Income tax.

Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, talked about the 18 month dispute of driver only trains and the lack of safe, secure, accessible travel. Mick told the meeting that many of the major rail companies have agreed to keep guards/conductors on trains. There is a need to have these people on board so that in a case of an emergency involving a passenger help is at hand. There is also a need for a contact point to report any incident of concern involving security.

Sian Errington, UNITE officer talked about uniting the generations, and how Governments must stop calling for Pensioners to lose the benefits that have been granted over the years that have been given because of the low state pension.

Mick Newton UK Mine Workers Pension Association. Mick gave a presentation on how since 1987 the Government/ British National has enforced a payment contribution holiday that still exist to the present day, and as a consequent has cost the mineworkers £5bn inn total. The government has since 1994 creamed off another £3.6bn through investment surpluses. This has been done via a spurious 50/50 guarantee agreement at the point of privatisation in 1994.

Jan Short the General Secretary closing speech. Jan thanked everyone for attending and for the contributions from the platform. She did however say that she did not agree with the Shadow Pension’s Minister with his support for the auto enrolment scheme. There are still a lot of issues that need to be addressed within the system. She said that when you take out a pension with the private companies running these schemes, half of the money goes to the shareholders of that company. On the question of Social care she said that Unite has been very much involved with the NPC Health and Social Care Working Party. A copy of their latest report has been issued.

The Meeting closed at 15.00hrs.

Rod Downing

NPC Annual Transport Conference held in Coventry 5th October 2017

The Conference was opened by the deputy Mayor of Coventry who said how pleased he was that the city was able to provide the venue for this event.

The first speaker to address the Conference was David Bermingham, the Chief Executive of Accessible Transport Group, (West Midlands.) 

Accessible Transport Group (ATG) is a registered charity that provides accessible transport services for people in the West Midlands who experience mobility impairment or social isolation in urban and rural environments. This is achieved primarily through the provision of Ring and Ride, a door-to-door minibus service an operation under contract to provide home-to-school services and local subsidised bus services.

West Midlands are the largest accessible transport provider in the United Kingdom employing over 900 staff and operating over 600 vehicles from 6 depots across the area. All the buses used have disabled access , and all the drivers are fully trained and have to complete a one week training course. With the exception of the Dial a ride, the services provided are free of charge. This is charitable organisation which is funded by the local council. The Ring and Ride service covers the seven metropolitan districts of the West Midlands: Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. 

Mark Babington, the Safety and Security Transport Manager for the West Midlands gave a presentation on security whilst traveling on public transport. 

Whilst the public transport network enjoys a very low crime rate, the Safer Travel Partnership is committed to making it even safer and importantly making people feel safe. To achieve this intelligence is gathered from a variety of sources to identify areas of the network that may be vulnerable to crime, anti-social behaviour and nuisance behaviour. 

90% of those traveling on public transport do not know there is a British Transport Police force which covers all public transport, i.e. Bus, Tram and Rail services. The Force want members of the public to report any incidents that they witness this includes anti-social behaviour such as playing loud music, feet on seats, Smoking etc. This can be reported by text or there is an app where you can remain anonymous.  

  • 90% of those traveling on public transport do not know there is a British Transport Police force which covers all public transport, i.e. Bus, Tram and Rail services. The Force want members of the public to report any incidents that they witness this includes anti-social behaviour such as playing loud music, feet on seats, Smoking etc. This can be reported by text or there is an app where you can remain anonymous.
  • Plan your journey in advance as much as possible. Make sure you know your route and stop, and check the times of the last bus, tram or train.
  • Always try to wait for your bus/tram/train in a well-lit place.
  • Have your ticket, pass or change ready in your hand so your purse or wallet is out of sight and keep valuables like mobile phones, cash and jewellery out of sight.
  • Keep bags closed and close to you.
  • If you feel concerned about your safety on the bus, sit close to the driver. If you are on the tram or train, move to a carriage where there are other people. • Keep keys separate from anything with your address on it. If you are travelling, thieves may assume your house is empty
  • Pickpockets love crowds, so keep bags to the front, closed with the fastening towards the body, be particularly careful with rucksacks. There then followed a discussion regarding the Rail Companies removing guards from trains. Many felt that they feel more secure when there is a Guard / Conductor on the trains.  

Where Next with the Bus Pass Campaign? Richard Worreall. Why we need to campaign.

Ever since the change of Government in 2010 there have been murmurings from some politicians about the need to `review’ or reform the English National Concessionary Travel Service. He said he was convinced that if they thought they could get away with it electorally, the Government would move to devalue and ultimately destroy the pass as a universal national entitlement which is free at the point of use. This process is already indirectly at work as cuts in the name of austerity are forcing Councils to cut back on services that are socially necessary bus services; this is especially in rural areas. With just over 200,000 `Love the Bus’ Pass signatures from all over the country delivered to 10 Downing street in the run up to the 2015 election, plus the lobbying of all English MP.s may have helped get an assurance from David Cameron to keep the bus pass. Next April will be the 10th Anniversary, so we are asking groups to come forward with suggestions on how we can celebrate this anniversary, and ensure that the bus pass remains as an entitlement to those of pensionable age who request it.  

Lessons from the South Yorkshire Campaigns. Fran Postlethwaite.

Up until 31st March bus pass and disabled pass holders had free train travel in South and West Yorkshire, and could travel on busses from 09.00. When the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive voted to remove the free train travel and restrict the bus pass to between 09.30 and 23.00hrs over 300 turned up to a protest meeting and decided to ignore the change and began the Freedom Rides.  

Following a large demonstration they were told that the protest would not change anything. Then in June they allowed free train travel for the disabled anytime in South and West Yorkshire, and half price train fares for elderly people in South Yorkshire. They campaigned and they won a concession. Stagecoach South Yorkshire has agreed to special scheme for the elderly who have a Hospital appointment so anyone with a bus pass can travel free on the busses before 09.30 by showing their appointment card.  

Holding a bus pass is a post code lottery when it comes to when and how you can travel. Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Merseyside, West Midlands including Birmingham all have free local train travel for the elderly. London pensioners have the freedom pass for local Trains, underground, and half price for ferries 

The Conference finished with Reports from Regions, and a request for Regions to put forward ideas for any campaigns for next year to be sent to the Transport Committee. 

The Conference closed at 15.25

Rod Downing

Retired Members Page

NPC Parliament Blackpool 6th-8th June 2017

Tuesday Pensioners defy the pouring rain and gale force wind to march through the streets of Blackpool to attend the 2017 Annual Pensioners Parliament in the Winter Gardens Blackpool.

In his opening address Ron Douglas the President of the NPC welcomed delegate to the 2017 NPC Parliament, and asked the delegates so show their support to Neil Duncan-Jordon and the office staff for all their hard work in organising this event. He also thanked all the Regional Secretary’s for the work they carry out on behalf of the NPC. He then Welcomed the Mayor of Blackpool, Councillor Ian Colman.

In his address the mayor said it was pleasure to welcome the NPC back to Blackpool and that Blackpool is proud to be the host of your Parliament. He went on to say that he tanked all the delegates and officers of the NPC for all the work that is carried out campaigning on behalf of the pensioners of this country. He said if any generation deserves a better life it is you, Blackpool is very proud of you. The President donated a cheque to the Mayor’s Charities’.

The first speaker to address delegates was Dr Debora Price a Professor of Social Gerontology. (A study of Aging and Uniting the Young and Old.)
She said aging does not start when you reach 65; it starts from the day you are born. Generational conflict does not just start; it is generated by politics and constructed by the way we talk about the young and the old. It is difficult to read the paper or listen to politicians when it comes to talking about the young and the old. It becomes a completion for resources, whether that is for Social Care, Housing, or even the NHS. It was politicians who encouraged people to purchase their homes, this did not happen by accident, ¾ of people now own their homes and this has happened by design. It is very difficult for the young people to get on the housing ladder as we are saddling them with huge debts if they go to University and also slashing their wages. This added to the soaring cost of housing and the high rents that are being charged by private landlords is why the young people cannot get housing. We hear that pensioners are wealthy because they own their homes, and compare them to the younger generation who have nothing. Politian’s would have you believe that they have had nothing to do with this situation we are in but it was their policies that got us to where we are today. It is like a magicians’ trick it makes us look at one thing whilst another thing is happening. What we should be looking at is social inequality.

Neel Radia - Chair of the National Association of Care Catering.
Neel gave a brief overview on what the association stands for. He told the Conference that they exist to improve the standard of catering within the care sector. We believe that that every person without exception senior or venerable persons living in the UK has the right to access good nutritional care provided with the dignity that is expected for that person. What I want to focus on today is the meals on wheels services that are being cut, whilst expectations of this service are rising as is the rising generation of older people needing the service. Large numbers of Meals on Wheels are being closed as local authorities struggle with the cuts to Social Services.

Our survey showed that only half of the local councils within the UK provide the meals on wheels service, and many of those who do are expected to make cuts over the next twelve months leaving many venerable people going hungry. Meals on Wheels is not established in law, so local authorities do not have to provide a service. We are not blaming the local authorities for this shortfall, politicians of all parties must face up to the fact that there is a shortfall in social care services.

Tim Tilly - (Director International Consortium of British Pensioners.)Tim spoke on behalf on the expatriate pensioners living in countries around the world, who are treated badly by the British Government. There are around fifty-five thousand around the world who are living on pensions that are frozen from the time that they left the UK. There are great concerns from Pensioners who are living in the EU as to whether their pensions will be affected after Brexit. The Government currently exclude just less than half of overseas pensioners from receiving an annual upgrade on their state pension. It is only those pensioners who live in countries that have what is known as a reciprocal agreement that get an annual increase on their pension. A pensioner who lives in the USA will get an annual increase, but those across the border in Canada do not, this would also apply to other commonwealth Countries such an Australia. Tim continued saying life can be complicated for over half of the British state pensioners who find they have retired to a country where pensions are “frozen” and they do not receive the annual up–rating of their UK state pension. There are now 120 “frozen” countries where the UK government refuses to provide the annual inflationary increase, many of which are Commonwealth countries. Their payments remain “frozen” in time and leaves some to survive on as little as £30 per week and a pension worth less than when their pension first started. How can this be right? Tim gave two web pages where you can find more information on this issue these are, British Frozen, and Pensions

Heather Wakefield - Head of Local Government (Unison)
Heather gave a presentation on the crisis within the Social Care system. She said the social care system was in crisis both financially and in respect of the quality of care given. Due to the cuts to local government there has been a reduction in the number of staff in the care system. Add to this the number of care homes that are run by private companies who are employing staff on very low wages with little training. 90% of carers are women, and the Government assumes that women will continue to provide care anyway and go the extra mile when it is needed; a majority of these women are unpaid carers. When it comes to finance for care from the Government, only 0.5% of GDP is spent on Care, but when it comes to armaments it is 2% of GDP which is four times more. Since 2010 the Government has cut the budget to local councils by 40%, which has resulted in cuts to the social care budget at local level. In 1993, 95% of home care was provided by local councils, that figure is now only 5-7% with the majority of care being provided by private companies. These companies have to submit bids for the contracts and often it’s the lowest bid that councils take. This usually results in some good care homes closing because they are unable to make a profit, and it is the pensioners that Suffer.

Jan Shortt - General secretary NPC
In her closing address Jan thanked all those who have worked so hard to get the NPC policies heard and also thanked all the speakers for their contributions to this event. She asked the Conference to give a special thanks to Neil Duncan-Jordan and the office staff who worked so hard in ensuring that the Parliament was reorganised following the announcement of the General Election. On the NPC Manifesto Jan asked everyone to ensure that copies are sent to their Member of Parliament, and to keep up our campaign to have an increase of 1p on general taxation to pay for social care. We must fight to ensure that the BBC does not take away the free TV Licence, as this is a vital life line for many elderly pensioners. She asked all Regional Committees to organise as many campaigns as possible to bring our message to the attention of the general public. The session closed at 16.35.

There were three separate sessions in the morning covering-: Is the Housing Crisis Caused by older people?, Where next for the State and Occupational Pensions? and Brexit what does it mean for older people?

I attended the session on Brexit.
The session was opened by Norman Jemison A Vice President of the NPC. Norman welcomed the Speakers who were, Simon Botterley (Independent Age) and Brian Sturtevant (CSPA) Simon spoke on the issues that may well affect Pensioners after Brexit. He said at present nobody knows what the affect will be but the NPC will campaign to protect what we have at present and work where possible for improvements.

He told the meeting that the NPC has written to David Davis MP who is likely to be part of the negotiating team if the Conservatives win the Election, to remind him of what he said at the Tory party Conference ie `` That as a one nation Government our job is to make Brexit work for everyone, and for every part of our country. “We must wait and see if this is the case.

He reminded everyone that it would be useful to the NPC if they would send in any views they may have on Brexit so that the NPC can draw up their strategy. He closed by listing all the rights that are currently covered by EU Law and Directives.

Brian gave a presentation on the affects that Brexit may have on social care if the current number of EU citizens currently employed within the care system are not allowed to stay. At Present there are around 84,000 EU citizens working within the social care service and he pointed out that it is difficult to recruit British people to work in social care. We must do more to improve the pay and working conditions if we are going to attract staff, many feel they can get better pay and working conditions working in the local café. We must also look at how we de deliver the care service as over the next 20 years many people will be living longer, and the present system will not be able to cope.

There followed a question and answer session with delegates allowed to express their views on the various policy’s.

The afternoon session covered: The state of the NHS, Public Transport, and the future of Local Pensioners Groups.

The Future of local pensioners groups was chaired by Ellen Lebthe and presented by Dot Gibson.

The afternoon was spent asking delegates how we can improve the way we open up the various pensioners groups to more members of the public, and to try and increase the membership of those affiliating to NPC. There were a large number of reports from groups that had been set up, and information on how this was achieved. Dot Gibson said that all the questions and answers brought up during the discussion would be collated and a report published.

Thursday Morning the closing session of the Parliament.
This took the form of considering how the NPC can campaign for their policies within the Pensioners Manifesto after the Election. There were a number of speakers from the floor on these issues. The Conference closed with thanks to all those who helped organise and helped the running of the Parliament.

Parliament Closed at 11.30.

Retired Members Annual Conference 2017

The Retired Members Annual Conference 2017 was held in Manchester on the 19th January 2017.

In his opening address Dave Ward the General Secretary said he was pleased to see so many members attending the Conference, and that he would like to thank all the delegates and the RMAC for all the hard work that they do on behalf of the members. The new Retired Members Web Page is now up and running and there is a page in the Voice, this is to improve the communication with the retired members. He told the Conference that there is to be a redesign of the CWU and a debate on this will take place shortly, we will be looking at the structure of the Union from the top to the bottom.

On the issue of the change to the Branch Model Rules, he informed the Conference that following legal advice, the union was forced to revise the Model Branch Constitution which in effect barred retired members from voting for Branch Officers. He went on to say however that the NEC will be reviewing the role and rights of retired members within the union as a matter of urgency in order to bring forward a comprehensive set of rule changes in advance of Annual Conference. This is something he said he want to hear our views on, and looked forward to meeting as many people as possible during the day.

Guest Speaker Debbie Abrahams Shadow Works & Pensions Minister.

Debbie Abrahams declared she was proud of what the previous Labour Government did on pensioner poverty. “One million pensioners were lifted out of poverty,” said Debbie, who questioned elements of the present regulation of pensions and charges levied on pensions. She also attacked the efforts to foster intergenerational conflict between young and old. “I don’t believe in a trade-off between young and old living in poverty. They are choices the Government makes,” she said. “We’re committed to the triple lock beyond 2020 – the same for everyone, not the privileged few,” said Debbie.


  1. South and East Thames - This Motion called for the RMAC to work with the NEC to lobby the present Government to get the 2014 Care Act running as it should be. It was agreed that this motion was for those who live in England, as Scotland and Wales have their own care systems. - The Motion was carried.
  2. RMAC - This Motion dealt with concerns over the Housing Planning act of 2016. It was felt that it is possible that the act could lead to more insecure tenancies in council properties forcing more elderly people into private rented properties with less security. It asked the Conference to support the Labour Party to oppose this act, and asked the RMAC to make representation to the NEC to work with all interested groups to highlight the dangers of this Act for the elderly. - The motion was carried.
  3. RMAC - In moving this Motion Ken Ward expressed concerns over the closure of local Accident and Emergency Centres and Hospitals. He said this was not the fault of the excellent and dedicated staff, but the result of leadership from the Government and austerity cuts. He said he believed that the closures will affect the elderly who will struggle more than most to attend far flung centralised A&E Departments, and this would put further strains on the ambulance services. He asked the Conference to instruct the RMAC to work with the NEC and other interested charities to campaign against the cuts to these centres. -The Motion was carried.
  4. RMAC - In the autumn statement the Chancellor declared that the Triple Lock for the State Pension would be reviewed prior to the General Election due in 2020 and the Governments Work & Pensions Committee said the Triple Lock, should be scraped as it was unsustainable and unfair to younger people. The Motion asked Conference to instruct the RMAC to work with the NEC to campaign with the Labour Party, the NPC, the TUC and other organisations to defend the Triple Lock and maintain a commitment during the next parliament. - The motion was carried.
  5. Coventry - This Motion asked Conference to recognise the continued underfunding of the NHS which is at breaking point. Due to the gross underfunding and continued cuts and closures of NHS services, private companies are seeking to gain even more of a foothold within the NHS. The Motion asked the RMAC to work with the NEC to campaign with the Labour Party, the NPC, the TUC and other organisations and to support the National Demonstration in London on the 4th March which has been organised by Health Campaigns Together. - The Motion Was Carried
  6. South Wales - Submitted a Motion that said that retied members of the union have concerns with the value for money that they currently receive for their subscription to the Union. They called for a reduction in the subscription for retired members, or that there should be greater number of benefits made available. During the debate that followed it was pointed out that Retired Members receive the same benefits that Full Members receive, and the mover was unable to put forward what additional benefits he felt should be provided. - The Motion was not Carried .
  7. Greater Mersey & South Lanc’s – Conference views with deep concerns the unilateral decision to abolish the right of CWU Retied Members to vote for their Branch Officers. The decision was imposed without any prior consultation with the Branches or the RMAC. This is not compatible with a Union that prides itself on all forms of discrimination on age, and promotes itself on proportionality and fair representation of all members.
    Regrettably however the NEC decision does reflect the rules of the Union. The Motion therefore instructed the RMAC to use all means and work with the NEC to seek a commitment from them to submit a Rule change to Annual Conference that restores the right of Retired Members to vote for their Branch Officers as listed in National Rule 6.4.2. -The Motion was carried.
  8.  Eastern No.5. - This Motion asked conference to seek a Special Report to be produced by the Friday prior to the close of submissions of Motions to General Conference 2017. The report will include an explanation as to the imposed changes to the Branch Model Constitution in respect of voting rights of retired members, and how the retired members sit within the CWU. In its opposition to the Motion the RMAC felt that the time scale for this to be achieved was too short. - The Motion was not carried
  9.  Midland Regional Retired Members Committee - The Motion instructed the RMAC to ask the NEC if they requested the CWU General Secretary and the President to publish to the membership the reasons and the rationale behind the Revised Branch Model Rules, which prohibited the Retired Members from voting for their Branch Officers . The RMAC opposed this Motion on the grounds that they had sought this information at their Meeting in November, and were informed that the Legal Advice given to the Union was confidential and could not be published. - The Motion was Carried

Motions for Annual Conference. The two motions that will be submitted to the Unions Annual Conference in April 2017 will be:-

Motion No.4 - Which Dealt with maintaining the Triple Lock.

Motion No.7 - Calling for the RMAC to seek from the NEC a rule change on Retired members voting in Branch elections.

Rod Downing
Retired Members Secretary

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