National Pensioners Convention Transport Conference Thursday 20th September 2018

The Chairman welcomed delegates to the meeting and expressed the NPC‘s thanks to the Unison North West branch for facilitating the use of their Conference Room. He then welcomed the Lord Mayor of Manchester and invited her to address the Conference.

The Mayor gave a special welcome to those delegates who were visiting Manchester for the first time. She gave a short presentation on the history of Manchester including that Manchester Victoria Station is the oldest Railway station in the world and was opened in 1844. She went on to say that that Victoria was the site of the Peterloo Massacre ,The Peterloo Massacre occurred at St Peter's Field, Manchester, England, on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. She went on to say that there is a need for HS3 which will provide a link from East to west and is needed for the Northern Region.

The next Speaker to address the conference was Ann Frye International specialist on Accessible Transport.

What do we know about older people? We know that many do retain a high level of fitness , but many who are over 75 have some form of disability this can include some loss of balance, hearing loss and general loss of mobility that can stop them from traveling. The biggest disability is anxiety, the lack of signage and unable to hear announcements clearly and lack of staff available to ask for assistance, these all add to anxiety when traveling on public transport. As we grow older many will find it more difficult in getting around, and worry over falling, these are just some of the problems that many older people experience.

When it comes to Local public availability of bus services, there is a need for up to date information on the service to be able to plan your journey, and that the bus should be easily accessible. All buses should be easy to access by 2020. There are still problems on some trains due to the older rolling stock not being up graded. There is a lack of enforcement by the Government on these issues but we have come a long way over the last 15-20 years. There has been improvement with information on busses and trains with announcements of the next stop.

However there are many areas where things have changed for the worse a reduction of staff on railways and booking office closures. Using machines and booking on line is a major problem for many people. Then there is the loss of many Rural Bus and Dial a Ride services. This can lead to some who live in rural areas often left stranded which can lead to loneliness.

Ann reported on cities across the world that has adopted systems to ensure that the elderly and disabled are catered for when it comes to transport. For example in Rotterdam when planning for new transport, the Department for Transport will consult with the Elderly and Disabled on what is required. The Department for Transport here should consult with older people to find out what is needed when they use public transport.

In closing she said, there are those who think many problems are with older people not being able to use technology, this will be resolved as the younger generation come through. This is not true, as time goes by technology will also change and so the problem will still exist. We must ensure that these issues are not ignored.

Graham Stringer MP Transport Select Committee Gave a report on Accessibility Developments in Manchester.

He said one of the most annoying statistics I hear on the Transport Select Committee, is that there is 85% satisfaction among bus users. The problem is that there has been a massive reduction of bus services; this is not just in Rural Communities but also in large cities. The result of these cuts is that those who do not drive are cut off and this can lead to loneliness in the older generation.

Both the Elected Mayors of both Manchester and Liverpool are trying to get control of bus services this can be done through franchising however the bus companies will be opposing this as they fear a loss of profits.

The Bus services were de-regulated in the eighties and privatised. As an MP when asked what can be done about the lack of bus services, the answer is nothing as no Politician has any control over bus services apart from the bus subsidy for those that have bus services taken away, so the bus company has full control over bus routes.

He went on to point out the recent problems with the rail services in the North and in the SE resulting from the time table changes. This caused a lot of problems with some of the elderly as there were delays and often people had to change platforms at short notice.

Fiona Walshe Deputy Director Deputy Director Passenger Experience, Department of Transport.

She informed the Conference that she was not a Politician but a Civil Servant working for the Department of Transport.

She gave a Presentation on the introduction of smart ticketing and the benefits that these can provide. So what is smart ticketing? In 1986 the electronic strip was introduced onto the paper tickets. London then introduced the Oyster card, there is also an ITSO card, which is mostly used for season ticketing, these are more robust than the paper type so there is less need for replacements of damaged cards. You can book on line and have a Bar Code sent to your phone. On the London underground you can use your Debit or Credit card to travel.

From the end of 2018 the Secretary of State has announced that he wants smart ticketing across the network, and has asked train companies to update their systems. This is a work in progress and is designed to reduce queues at ticket offices. However we are aware that not everyone has a bank account, this can be for verity of reasons. So there are no plans to withdraw the paper tickets from ticket offices or Machines

The Next Item on the agenda was a report from Terry Carter NPC Transport Committee Member on the NPC response to the Health of the Bus Market Inquiry.

Terry presented the conference with a draft report to the Department of Transport on the health of the Bus Market and asked members to submit any information that they feel will be helpful to the Transport Committee before the NPC submit their report on the 24th September.

The Hose of Commons Transport Select Committee have launched an inquiry into the health of the Bus Market in England, giving examples that the number of passengers in London has increased by 52% over the last 25years, whilst those in metropolitan areas have reduced by 40%.

 These figures of course do not take into account the increasing population, and the DFT statistics show that between 2009/10 and 2016/17 the number of local passenger journeys in England overall fell by nearly 10%.

 Terry presented slides that showed the general trend of bus usage between the 1950s and 2017, in the 1950s total buss passenger usage was 17234, in 2017 this had dropped to 4931. Bus services have decreased severally over the past 3 years in both metropolitan and rural areas. Those who are affected most are those services that are supported by the Councils, and this is a major issue.

The Committee is particularly interested to receive evidence on:

  • The effectiveness and ambition of the Department for Transport’s policies on buses;
  • Factors affecting bus use, including the reliability of the bus service, congestion and the ways bus companies are dealing with congestion, and the effectiveness of bus priority measures;
  •  The provision of services to isolated communities in rural and urban areas, and the reliance of particular communities and groups of people on bus services;
  • The viability and long-term sustainability of bus services, including the effectiveness of funding, fare structures and public grants;
  • Regulations affecting the provision of bus services and the adequacy of guidance to operators and local authorities.

A full copy of the NPC submission document is available on request.

The meeting closed with the President Ron Douglas thanking all the speakers and the North West Unison Branch and all the delegates for their contribution to the Conference.

Rod Downing

Retired Members Secretary


Social Care Green Paper

Dear Colleagues,

You will recall that at the Retired Members Conference this year the RMAC submitted a Motion the subject of the publication of a Green Paper on Social Care, calling for the RMAC to work with other organisations to monitor the progress of the green paper which was due to be published this summer.

In the March 2017 budget the Conservative Government said it would publish a Green Paper on social care, in order to allow a public consultation to be held. During the 2017 general election campaign made a manifesto commitment to introduce the Green Paper.

The Green paper has been delayed several times from the original publication date of summer 2017, then it was the end of 2017 and then finally before the recess Parliamentary recess 2018. In June 2018 the Health and Social Care Secretary announced a further delay in the publication of the Green Paper to the autumn of 2018.

You can download details of the green Paper from the internet which is quiet a lengthy document so it is not possible reproduce the document in full. I have included several extracts which I feel may be have interest.

As the then Minister responsible for the Green Paper, Damian Green, told the House in November 2017, “reform of this vital sector [of care and support for older people] has been a controversial issue for many years, but the realities of an ageing society mean that we must reach a sustainable settlement for the long-term”.

During the 2017 General Election campaign, the Conservative Party made a number of pledges regarding how individuals pay for social care, and said that they would honour the commitment they had made in the March 2017 Budget to publish a Green Paper.

An efficient elderly care system which provides dignity is not merely a function of money. So our forthcoming green paper will also address system-wide issues to improve the quality of care and reduce variation in practice. This will ensure the care system works better with the NHS to reduce unnecessary and unhealthy hospital stays and delayed transfers of care, and provide better quality assurance within the care sector. The first Queen’s Speech of the new Parliament stated that: “My Ministers will work to improve social care and will bring forward proposals for consultation”.

The Government has said that the Green Paper will “focus on care for older people, but many of the issues and questions about the sustainability of the care system will be relevant to adults of all ages”.

Therefore: To ensure that issues specific to working-age adults with care needs are considered in their own right, the Government will take forward a parallel programme of work which is being led jointly by the Department of Health [now the Department of Health and Social Care] and the Department for Communities and Local Government [now the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government], which will focus on this group.

The seven principles to guide the Governments thinking were given by Jeremy Hunt in a speech in March 2018, these were:-

  • That quality and safety are embedded in service provision.
  • A whole-person, integrated care with the NHS and social care systems operating as one.
  • That the highest possible control is given to those receiving support.
  • A valued workforce.
  • Better practical support for families and carers.
  • a sustainable funding model for social care supported by a diverse, vibrant and stable market.
  • greater security for all – for those born or developing a care need early in life and for those entering old age who do not know what their future care needs.

Mr Hunt added that “innovation is going to be central to all of these principles: we will not succeed unless the changes we establish embrace the changes in technology and medicine that are profoundly reshaping our world”. By reforming the system in line with these principles everyone – whatever their age – can be confident in our care and support system. Confident that they will have control, confident that they will have quality care and confident that they will get the support they need from wider society.

In June 2018, the Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Health and Social Care select committees published their joint report, “Long-term funding of adult social care”. Describing the social care system as “not fit to respond to current needs, let alone predicted future needs”, the report called for the Green Paper to be the “catalyst for achieving a fair, long-term and sustainable settlement”

The committees said that they “support the provision of social care free at the point of delivery as a long-term aspiration. In principle, we believe that the personal care element of social care should be delivered free to everyone who has the need for it, but that accommodation costs [for care home residents] should continue to be paid on a means tested basis” The report set out six principles “which we recommend should underpin future decisions about funding social care”, namely:

  • “good quality care” – “Funding should be sufficient to achieve the aims of social care … This will require universal provision of high quality, personalised care delivered by a stable well-paid and well-trained workforce alongside well supported carers to a wider group of people than currently receives care, all within a navigable and accessible system. It should also aim to address the current levels of unmet and under-met need”
  •  “considering working age adults as well as older people” – “The Green Paper will focus solely on social care for older adults … At the very least, the Green Paper should be closely linked with the parallel programme for working age adults, clearly setting out how its proposals impact on funding for that age group. The Green Paper should consider both”. [The Government has stated that the Green Paper will “inevitably cover a range of issues that are common to all adults with care and support needs”.
  • “Ensuring fairness between the generations”, Contributions towards the cost of care should be fairly distributed between generations Older people could be expected to continue while taking into account the fact that they have contributed throughout their working lives via taxation. However, over the longer term, the distribution of wealth between the different ages may change with corresponding implications for fairness, suggesting that a flexible solution is required”.
  • Aspiring over time towards universal access to personal care free at the point of delivery” – “Currently, the burden of the cost falls on individuals in an unfair distribution depending on diagnoses … The balance needs to be redressed, aspiring over time and moving towards, as funding permits, universal access to sustainably funded social care, free at the point of delivery”
  • Risk pooling—protecting people from catastrophic costs, and protecting a greater portion of their savings and assets” – “A cap on the amount of care costs a person paid would pool the risk, distributing the costs of very high care needs across the society. The level of protection (and therefore the costs of this policy) would depend on the level at which the cap is set, and determining this figure requires financial modelling and extensive consultation. Raising the means test threshold (the ‘floor’) is another way of enabling people to keep a greater proportion of their assets; again, the costs would be shared across society. Providing free at point of delivery care for those assessed as having critical or substantial care needs would be another way of protecting people from this risk”.
  • “‘Earmarked’ payments” – “people are generally willing to contribute more to pay for social care if they can be assured that the money will be spent on this purpose. ‘Earmarking’ taxation100 can help to give confidence and accountability over spending”.

In summary, the committees recommended:

  •  an additional earmarked contribution, described as a ‘Social Care Premium’, should be introduced” payable by those over 40 years of age (although possibly with a minimum income threshold);
  • the possibility of extending this approach to the funding of the NHS, and “in the long term, we believe there is a strong case for reimagining this as ‘National Health and Care Insurance’”;
  • a specified additional amount of Inheritance Tax should be levied on all estates above a certain threshold and capped at a percentage of the total value”;
  • further integration of health and social care which “has the potential to improve • further integration of health and social care which “has the potential to improve outcomes and we recommend that local attempts to better integrate services continue apace”;
  • the establishment of a “cross-party parliamentary commission” which “offers the best way to make desperately needed progress on this issue”

I hope that this has been useful to you all, and we must keep pushing all interested parties to monitor the progress of the Green Paper .

Rod Downing

RMAC


Ageing Population: Meeting the Needs through Innovation – July 2018

I attended the above Conference on the 11th July. There were number speakers who addressed the Conference but I have only reported on the main issues that I felt were relevant.

In his opening address Dr Brian Beach set the theme for the Conference - In 2016 18% of the population was aged 65 and over and over 2.4% were aged over 85. It is estimated that by 2040 one in seven people will be over 75 years old, and a third of babies born today are expected to live until they are over 100. As in many aspects of modern life, innovation, technology is viewed as major contributors in overcoming the challenges of an older society.

The first speaker to address the Conference was Jemma Mouland, Senior Programme Manager -Innovation Centre for better ageing. Technology and digital platforms are viewed as major contributors in overcoming the challenges of an older society and this one-day Conference aims to address how innovative approaches can not only provide solutions but can also provide both societal and economic opportunities from a ticking time –bomb our longer lives are one of society’s greatest achievements.

She said, we need to look at the radical shift needed in how we think about our later lives, how we respond to the opportunities and challenges this brings and the importance of innovation. Where you live can affect how you tackle a better way of living. 90% of 65year olds live in mainstream housing, which is often unsuitable for older people in later life.

Where you live can affect the way in which you tackle the way of living as you grow older in retirement. We need to build homes that are able to support us in later years, where loneliness can be a major problem in wellbeing. It is time to see older people as contributing to society rather than a burden. Maintaining good health can be achieved by keeping active, doing voluntary work or a small part time job is very beneficial. There needs to be a system that enables the older generation to learn new skills.

The next speaker was from the Head of Social Innovation, Design Council - Who gave a presentation on Breaking down some of the Barriers that obstruct innovations and solutions.

From developing innovative products that improve day-to-day life for someone with dementia to identifying improvements for complex public services, design plays a vital role in tackling the big social challenges of today. Our social innovation programmes set out to bring about systemic change in the way solutions, services and products are designed, developed and delivered and to create the conditions for social innovation to flourish. We also forge connections between the communities and stakeholders affected by an issue in order to ensure that the work has a lasting legacy and meets real people’s needs.

Design for Care is a major new Design Council initiative to create a care system that is more personalised, more connected and more preventative. Over the next three to five years Design for Care will apply world-renowned design talent in a drive to invent and develop new systems, processes, products and services to increase well-being, to help reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and to help people stay in their own homes. In the context of a rapidly ageing population and the increasing difficulty of delivering a 21st century public health service on the back of a 20th century system, we need to radically rethink our approach to ensure quality care when and where it is most needed.

To meet this challenge we will need to broaden the notion of care from eligibility measured services to the responsibility of the community. It's a challenge of wider collaboration between individuals and carers, family and friends, neighbours and volunteers and professionals. This more radical approach requires real imagination.

 Professor Thomas Scharf - gave a review of how inequality can affect you in later life. The type of job that you have in early life can affect the way you live in later life. In addition Education, Sexual Orientation, access to technology and even Race can have an affect how you live in retirement.

On Health he said, those who have had a higher economic occupation will have a better life in retirement than those who have had a lower economic occupation. Addressing the causes and consequences of social exclusion represents a key theme in European Social Policy, reflecting growing awareness of the social costs which arise when individuals, families and communities become cut off from wider society. Conceptually, however, social exclusion remains underexplored in gerontology. Social exclusion in old age is conceptualised as a multi-dimensional phenomenon comprising of: exclusion from material resources, exclusion from social relations, exclusion from civic activities, exclusion from basic services; and neighbourhood exclusion.

Drawing on a survey of 600 people aged 60 and over in deprived neighbourhoods of three English cities, the article develops indicators to represent each dimension of exclusion and seeks to assess the nature of social exclusion faced by older people in deprived neighbourhoods. Results reveal a considerable proportion of older people experiencing social exclusion in at least one form. The sample fell into three categories: 33% were not excluded on any of the five domains; 31% experienced exclusion on a single domain; 36% were vulnerable to the cumulative impact of multiple forms of exclusion.

Drawing on the major review of the current evidence concerning inequalities in later life, has highlighted the key challenges that will need to be addressed if the benefits of innovation are to be spread more equally across ageing populations.

Graham Armitage National Innovations Centre for Ageing - Newcastle University Demographic changes and pressure on public finances are leading to radical changes in statutory provision of simple Assistive Technology (AT). Simple aids for daily living (SADLs) are increasingly appearing in a variety of existing and new channels. However, there are challenges for this emerging market. There is evidence that the public's awareness of the existence and benefits of AT is low, and take-up is limited by stigma and negative associations with old age and disability and that healthcare professionals are nervous about such developments.

This joint study, by The Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University & Years Ahead Partnership, looked into the feasibility of a consumer led product rating, accreditation or approval scheme which would raise awareness, improve consumer confidence, help to destigmatise the use of products and offer reassurance to professionals working in the field.

This initiative is funded by Years Ahead’s not-for-profit Better Living Trust, and as such any scheme that is developed will not be a commercial venture for either Years Ahead or Newcastle University. For the feasibility investigation phase of the project a range of methods have been used for data collection, including focus groups, semi-structured interviews and a survey. As people get older they are ignored until they need help and support. We need a system that helps people from retirement to the end of life. This system works well in Scotland, and has resulted in savings in social care in later life. There are at present many that will work for a low wage but this will not last into the future.

Anne Willmott - Age at Work Director in the Community. How do we enable longer working lives for those who wish to continue in employment in later life? We believe that people of every age should be able to continue to work if they wish to do so but as it stands, too many people over 50 are being overlooked. Our research found a missing million people between 50 and State Pension age who have been forced out of work. Ageism is rife; a 50-year-old is 4.2 times less likely to be invited to interview than a 28-year-old. We need to support those with health issues and caring responsibilities to prevent them leaving their jobs, and deal with the discrimination and bias in recruitment that makes it hard for the over 50s to secure employment.

Ian Spero - founder of Agile Ageing Alliance. Homes need to be designed to meet the needs of older people if they are to remain in their homes for longer. 74% of homes across Europe are not fit for purpose for living in your own home as you get older.

A neighbourhood of the future examines the so-called housing ‘crises facing the next generation of older adults. It suggests that although there is most definitely an urgent need for more ‘age-friendly’ housing and built environments, innovative new products and service solutions enabled by evolving technologies. The Internet provides a golden opportunity to rethink the outlook for ageing populations, particularly if various sectors, organisations and stakeholders adopt new collaborative business models and work towards a common and mutually beneficial reference framework for age-friendly housing.

There were a number of further presentations from speakers from large companies who explained how technology can benefit those living alone and in care homes. There is technology that can monitor if a person has taken their medicine, and even monitor them to ensure that they have eaten their meals. Technology can assist staff in care homes with monitoring the person’s activities throughout the day.

There was also a presentation on keeping track of your pension providers but this was aimed at those on auto Enrolment.

The Conference closed at 16.30.

Rod Downing

Retired Members Secretary


Retired Members Fringe Meeting Annual Conference Meeting 2018

John Martin RMAC Member Chaired the meeting.

John welcomed delegates to the meeting and introduced the guest speakers to the meeting and explained that the meeting would have to close at 2pm sharp as there were important motions being debated on the Conference floor that delegates needed to be present for.

The first speaker to address the meeting was Phil Chadwick, former Branch Secretary Western Counties. Phil gave a short presentation on a book that has been published on the Great Post Office Strike of 1971. The book contains the memories of those who were involved, many of them who are now in their 80s. He thanked all those who helped to put together this book that has taken five years to produce. He said there were some who thought the strike was a defeat, but many now believe that it was a success in view of what has now been achieved.

Phil said go out and contact your retired members and find out how many of them have memories of the strike, so that you can record their memories from your Region.

If you require information on how to obtain this book please contact: westerncountiescwu@gmail.orgwww.cwuwesterncountiesbranch.org/ 

Next to address to meeting was Tony Kearns Senior Deputy General Secretary.

Tony welcomed all delegates attending the meeting, and said he was pleased with the publication of the book by the South Western counties Branch, which produced a history of society in 1971. Tony went on to also welcome once again Neil Duncan Jordon from the NPC to address this meeting. The Union has been a strong supporter of the NPC for many years.

Under Re-Design of the CWU he said we want your Branches to get you involved when they hold meetings on this important issue. Please make every effort to become involved. Tony apologised that he had to leave early as he was due to attend a NEC Meeting.

Neil Duncan Jordan told the meeting; the links between the NPC and the CWU have been very good. Brian Lee from the RMAC now sits on the NPC Committee on behalf of the CWU. Neil went on to speak about the State Pension, saying that there are many that think the Triple Lock on pensions is too generous but the latest increase on pensions is only £3.60 for men and £2.75 for women.

On the question of have pensioners avoided austerity the answer is no. If we had kept the link with earnings we would have received more than we have under the triple lock. When it comes to the question of Universal Benefits, I say to those who believe that the Winter Fuel Allowance should be means tested, then the answer is simple, those on the higher Tax bracket should be taxed on the £200. We must defend the benefits of the Bus Pass, this helps pensioners to get out and socialise and keep active, and this means they contribute through the taxation that is imposed on many goods bought. We must also never forget the unpaid work that is carried out by pensioners in the voluntary work sector and caring for family members.

Social care is not being addressed as it should be, it is crazy that if you have cancer you are given care free under the NHS, but if you develop dementia you will have to pay for your care which can cost as much as much as £1,000 per week.

The Chair thanked all the speakers for their contributions and also all those who attending the meeting, and said it was unfortunate that we had to close the meeting early due to commitments on the Conference floor.

 If you have any questions relating to this report please contact me via my email Address on the main Retired Members web page.

Rod Downing

Retired Members Secretary & RMAC Member


Annual Conference 2018 Retired Members Issues

Dear Colleagues

This is a brief report on the items that related to Retired Members that were placed before this year’s Annual Conference in Bournemouth.

Please note the motions in this report have been abridged with only the main points of the motion being reported.

Sunday

1. The Kent Invicta Branch submitted a motion which called upon Conference to note that over many years the National Insurance Fund has been in surplus, even after allowing for a prudent margin for unexpected calls on the fund, eg a sudden rise in unemployment. Over many years Governments have through the Debt Management office borrowed from the fund surplus to reduce the overall cost of Government borrowing.

The Motion instructed the NEC to work with the RMAC to campaign for an increase in the state pension to be funded through the surplus in the NI fund. The motion also asked for the control of the NI Fund to be taken away from the Government and Treasury and transferred to independent Commissioners.

The motion was not carried,

2. One of the Motions that was submitted to the Conference from the Retired Members Conference was the one which raised concerns over the level of Fuel Poverty within the UK. The motion called for the NEC in conjunction with other supportive campaigning bodies to campaign that the government carry out a program of action. This included such items as;

  • To improve the heating and installation standards in existing homes so that they reach the standard of new houses.
  • Legislate to oblige all fuel companies to provide industry wide social tariffs to low income and fuel poor consumers.
  • Ensure that fuel companies are obliged to offer fuel payment packages to offline customers that are equal to those available online.
  • To End the use of pre-payment meters.
  • To provide an annual fuel allowance, to all vulnerable older and low income households set initially at £500, which keeps pace with annual increase in the average energy bills.

This motion was carried.

3.  Midland No.1 Branch submitted a motion calling for a vote of no confidence in the National Executive Council for the way it dealt with the Voting Rights of Retired Members and the issues associated with it .

The Motion was Not Carried.

4.  South Central Branch asked Conference to agree that holding of the Retired Members Conference in the winter mouths is detrimental to many of our members, who need to travel long distances to attend the Conference. The motion also raised concerns that the venues planed for these Conferences, do not always take into account members who have disability issues. The Motion instructed the NEC to work with the RMAC to change the timing of the Retired Members Conference to the autumn and ensure venues facilities and access to venues are suitable to all.

The Motion was carried.

5.  The second motion submitted from the Retired Members Conference, was the one which said that this Conference is extremely disappointed in dealing with Motion 29 from General Conference 2017. This motion in the name of the NEC called for a report to Branches by the end of September 2017. Although LTB 653/17 was published on the 4th December 2017, the issue is going to drag on until at least February 2018 before a recommendation is made. The Motion instructed the NEC as a matter of urgency to put on hold the additional paragraph to the Model Branch Constitution contained in the LTB 664/16 until a report is issued that is acceptable to Branches and their Retired Members Sections.

The Motion was not moved as it was timed out. The EC Ruling on this motion was to oppose the motion.

6. Midland No.1 Branch submitted a motion instructing the NEC to explain why the instructions clearly contained in Motion 35 which was carried at General Conference 2017 have not been Complied with .

This motion was unfortunately also timed out, and the EC ruling was again to oppose the motion.

If there are any questions relating to this report, please contact me via my email as published on the Retired members Web page.

Rod Downing

Retired Members Secretary & RMAC Member.


TUC PENSIONS CONFERENCE 27/2/2018 LOTTERY

FIXING THE RETIREMENT LOTTERY

PAUL NOWAK Assistant General Secretary of the TUC, welcomed delegates to the Conference and went through to Agenda for the Conference.

He said that pensions are deferred wages for when we retire from work. To tackle the great pension’s lottery, employers must provide a pension that people can live on when they retire. He went on to say, “We also need a decent State Pension, and at present we have one of the lowest pensions in Western Europe”.

Whilst working people’s ability to access a workplace pension has improved over recent years with Auto enrolment which has employers contributing to the fund, there are around 8.8 million workers who are not currently saving into a pension scheme. This is accordingly to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

In some occupations up to 85 per cent of the lowest paid are not in a pension scheme and missing out on employers contributions that better paid workers receive.

Guy Opperman MP. Minister for Pensions and financial Inclusion.

The Minister said he was a supporter of the Living Wage, and is a supporter of the Trade Union movement. He went on to say that this government wants all pensioners to receive a higher pension, but to achieve this everyone must pay a higher rate into the pension fund.

On Auto Enrolment he thanked the TUC for their support for this scheme. He went on to say that with Defined Benefit Pensions employers must ensure that these are implemented properly and safeguarded against fraud. He told the Conference that he had had a recent meeting with CWU & Royal Mail on the proposed pension agreement, and it was important that there is an agreement between the CWU and Royal Mail.

Pension Inequality: Is it time for older people to pay up?

This was a debate on the issue of are the younger generations suffering as a result of the pensioners who have Gold plated pensions, mortgage free homes and receiving an increase on pensions above inflation with the Triple Lock. The younger generation are saddled with University loans and unable to get on the housing ladder due to high house prices.

Nicholas Timmins (Author & Journalist.) Asked the question is it time for Pensioners to pay up, and if they are in employment they should pay National Insurance on their earnings. He went on to say that due to the Conservative Government changing the pension’s calculation away from Earnings to the Triple lock system pensioners have received increases above the average earnings, and as a result are better off than the younger generation.

Two other speakers on this subject both spoke on the need for all those who are in employment to ensure that they join a pension scheme and where possible invest in savings schemes for their retirement. Gregg McClymont said the state has a key role in providing and setting the terms for access to the State pension. This is typically financed out of current tax contribution. Each working generation pays for the generation in retirement; this is a pay as you go system.

Tim Sharp TUC Pensions Officer told the Conference the TUC are concerned that young workers in the 20- 30 age group are in low paid jobs. Despite this most of those of working age are wealthier than many pensioners; there are a larger number of Pensioners in poverty than those of working families. He went on to say that it is not the triple lock or cold weather payments that are holding the younger generations back, it is the low pay and the standard of living. In the past seven years the triple lock has only once paid more than earnings.

Tim said, on the question of what are the TUC doing to help women get into pensions schemes. He said the problem is that auto enrolment schemes are not good for women as they are often in low paid jobs and earn below the level required to pay into a pension scheme. On the issue of linking pensions to life expectancy the problem with this is that there are large regional differences in life expectancy.

In from the Pension Fringes: when will social and green issues go mainstream?

Debbie Abrahams the Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary addressed the Conference and said that labour can provide an alternative. Her speech was based on the issue of in from the pension fringes and when will social and green issues go mainstream? She went on to say that she welcomed the opportunity to discuss the positive potential for investing pension funds in to Green projects. Labours plans to transform the economy will greatly increase the opportunities for pensions. We will do this by amending company law so directors owe a duty directly not only to stakeholders, but to employees, customers, the environment and the wider public.

We will also drop the Conservatives Great Repeal Bill, replacing it with an EU Rights and Protection Bill that will ensure there is no detrimental change to worker’s rights, equality law, consumer rights and environmental protections as a result of Brexit. We will use trade negotiations to boost access for British environmental goods and services, alongside support for investment into new green technologies and improve low carbon products. We will also ensure that 60 per cent of the UKs energy comes from zero carbon or renewable sources by 2030. A Labour Government will create a British economy that works for all.

On State Pensions Age she said, the Department of Health and Social Care has recently been accused of ignoring repeated warnings about stagnating life expectancy. The academics said that in recent years there had been one of the greatest slowdowns in life expectancy improvements for both sexes since the 1890s, with rates even declining for some groups. So how can ministers justify pushing up the state pension age in the current climate, especially as the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries had taken notice of the trend and adjusted their projections?

Yet the Government is pressing ahead with plans to increase the pension age to 68. The evidence is clear: increases in life expectancy have slowed markedly and at older ages may even be reversing, and women are most adversely affected by the slowdown. In other European countries progress in mortality rates just carries on as normal and they continue to see life expectancy rise and rise. They are doing the best and we, in the UK, the worse when it comes to progress since 2010. We support the academics who are demanding an urgent independent inquiry into whether austerity policies could be driving the trend.

We’ve all seen the impact of bringing forward the SPA on the 2.6 million women born in the 1950s. I am proud of the last Labour Government’s success at reducing pensioner poverty, but women and the lowest paid still remain at high risk of falling into poverty in their retirement.

The Next Speaker was Luke Hildyard, Corporate Governance Pensions

 Luke said how can investors ensure that the investments made will have good returns for pensions, and which companies are involved with social and environmental schemes that produce a better return on investments.

 A wider social movement has already led to exponential growth as more people become concerned with how their money is invested. Moreover, the pensions review has widened this concern to institutional investments; representing 35% of the stock market. The potential impact of this regulation is anticipated to be significant. One possible outcome could be a marked increase in the size and power of the Socially Responsible Investment sector, improving their ability to successfully influence corporate behaviour. Success is likely to increase further as corporations begin to see a business case, as well as, or as opposed to a moral case for acting in a more responsible manner.

Catherine Howarth Chief Executive Shared Action

Catherine said we make sure savers voices are heard by the people managing their money. We unlock the power of investors to influence the behaviour of companies and their impact on society and the environment. We give investors and savers the tools they need to make change happen such as research and training. We publish policy recommendations to influence and re write the rules of the system. We analyse the behaviour of big investors,harassing competition and drive up standards. We bring together investors, organisations and individual savers into powerful networks that take action and drive change.

There are important issues for investors of pension’s schemes. Both employers and employees should pay more into their pension schemes, and we must ensure that their investments are managed properly. We must also ensure that companies pay a living wage so that people can pay for their future pensions.

Ray Ellis CWU/ Hilary Salt, First Actuarial

Ray Ellis gave a presentation on the CWU proposed pension scheme that is to be placed before the Membership. Hillary Salt said the proposed scheme was the best scheme for both Employers and Employees.

Age UK gave a presentation on pensions

It recommended that you find out your likely retirement income with their pensions calculator and that all people over 50 should be encouraged to calculate how much they may need in retirement. In a few steps the Age UK pension calculator can give an estimate of the income you will get when you retire. This will include income from defined benefits and defined contribution schemes, plus your Basic State Pension.

The Conference closed with a debate on the affects that Brexit may have on pensions.

The conference closed at 16.30.

Rod Downing


CWU REDESIGN PROJECT NATIONAL BRIEFING 13TH MARCH 2018

The National Briefing was held In Manchester on Tuesday the 13th March 2018 which I attended with my Branch Secretary.

Dave Ward In his opening address told delegates that at any given time every Union has to look at the work that the union does, and there is no more important time for us to look at the redesign of the CWU. We need to reflect on where we stand and what changes need to be made within our structure. The NCU & UCW merged 25 years ago, and we may have to merge with another union at some time in the future, however as far as possible we want remain as a separate Union.

The New structure of headquarters is based on the three pillars; this will require changes with some mergers of departments and to the Employees pensions. There will also be voluntary redundancies, but there will be no compulsory redundancies. Talks with the staffs trade union are taking place on these issues.

We need to look at the space that we require at Headquarters, 150 The Broadway because at the moment it is under occupied. If we cannot lease the spare capacity we may have to move to another premises. We also need to look at our education facilities and decide if we should keep both Alvescot and the Elstead Hotel.

The Redesign is not just about achieving financial stability, as crucial as that is we will also discuss the overall aims and objectives of the project and how this is being presented in a motion to Annual Conference. From this you will see the Redesign offers the best chance we will ,ever have to deliver progressive change and ensure the CWU is fit for purpose in a rapidly changing world of work.

For trade unionist and workers everywhere there is no more important debate than securing the future of your union and the wider union movement. There is work to do and todays briefing is the next step in the process.

Tony Kearns - Said that the Union is asset rich, but over the last ten years we have lost over 40,000 members and with membership is declining it follows that our income is falling, so we need to invest in the organisation of recruitment. There are a large number of companies in the communications business where we should be recruiting. On the Branch and Regional structure Tony said we need to look at Branch and Regional Structures to ensure that they share and pool resources. The report also asked for a review of the regional structures.

The Report looks at the structure of all areas of the union which includes Conferences, Branch Structure, Regional Structure, and National Structures. Branches are requested to complete questionnaires on all these issues, so if you attend your Branch Committee meetings please ensure that the Retired Member’s views on your issues are heard. It is not possible to report on all the items raised within this report, so I have listed below what I feel are the main issues affecting the retired members of the union.

Retired Members

Within the report these are the issues that I have identified relating to Retired Members

  1. Annual Conference. The report looks at the possibility of moving to a Biennial Conference. National Forums/Briefings could be utilised to bring people together between conferences, or if an urgent or unforeseen issue arises.
  2. Retired Members Conference. The report asks Branches to consider moving the Retired Members Conference to biennial, with a provision that at the Annual Political Event matters that may have an impact on our retired members could be discussed. The political landscape is possibly the single biggest influence on the lives of our retired membership. This may be a way of fulfilling the Motions that have requested that the Retired Members Conference be moved to the autumn months.
  3. Advisory Committees. The report laid out the structure of all the Advisory Committees as they are at the present time, and measures to give a more formal link between the committees and the NEC. The report when on to say that good work has been done by all the committees over time, but in reality the terms of reference for what we expect of these committees have never been clearly laid out by the CWU. Considerable union resources are put into these committees and their activities, perhaps it is now time to define their roles and responsibilities more clearly and set out clear objectives for their work. We should also consider how their work can better support the broader political, industrial, organising and campaigning aims of the union.

The Report requests Branches to give their response to the questions asked on each sections of the Report.

At the close of the briefing the General Secretary thanked everyone for attending and reminded Branches that the closing date for responses to this report must be received by the close of business on the 11th May 2018.

He also reminded that there will be a TUC demonstration on a new deal for workers on the 12th May 2018 in London. He asked that there be as many branches as possible encourage members to attend.

Rod Downing - Retired Members Secretary


RMAC MEETINGS ON MOTION 29.

A Joint Meeting with the NEC members and the RMAC took place on Monday the 5th of February 2018.

At this meeting those present were presented with a document from the NEC meeting held on the 30th November 17, which had been held following the first meeting of the Joint working party on the 9th November 17. It was made clear that any final decision made at RMAC meetings on the issues surrounding motion 29 the NEC will be responsible for making any decision on the way forward.

It was agreed that Retired Members must be served differently from working Members, and to identify positions that are open to Retired Members, these could possibly be Branch Treasurer, or Political Officer as these are not Management facing positions.

It was also agreed that the Branch Retired Secretary should have a position on the Branch Committee. The RMAC members made it clear that Plan 5 members must be served differently from retired members. Plan 5 members can stand and also vote for Branch Officers.

It was also agreed the National Rule 4.8 the wording, (to deal with retired members problems) should be changed to more appropriate wording. It was also agreed that Branches should elect a retired members section within the Branch which should have a Chair, Secretary and Committee Members.

Full RMAC Meeting held on the 9th February 2018.

This meeting was presented with a report from the Joint Working Party with a list of recommendations from the Motion 29 working group. These were as follows:-

1.  That the NEC needs to review the status of Plan 5 memberships to ensure that the principles of differentiating between working and non -working members are properly dealt with. The Woking Group considered this matter, particularly the historical issues around portable membership that has evolved into a group of members into a mixture of working and non- working members. The consensus formed however was that this matter is proper to be dealt with by the NEC.

The RMAC agreed with this recommendation.

2.  That the NEC needs to recognise and accept a responsibility to plan for a future generation of representatives at every level. Motion 29 called for the working group to recognise and consider that ``Succession planning and progression within the union is important to the development and longevity of our organisation." The recommendation went on to state that this was not just an issue exclusive to Branches, and that this was something NEC should develop by setting up a future leaders agenda.

The RMAC had no problems with this recommendation.

3.   The recommendation dealt with the question of Retired Members voting rights. It said the voting rights have been debated at length at all levels within the CWU. It went on to say that Motion 29 is clear ``that the principle that retired members should not be able to vote for occupational/industrial positions”. The working group concluded that at Branch level the roles of Treasurer/ Financial Secretary; as well a political officer should not be the only roles that retired members can vote for but also that they should be eligible to stand for election to. At national Level voting rights for the General Secretary, Senior Deputy Secretary and Legal Services need to be clearly identified.

The RMAC discussed this recommendation at length with the SDS and made it quite clear that we could not agree to the wording of this recommendation. We believe that the retired Members should be allowed to vote for senior Branch Officers who are responsible for the Retired members of the Branch.

4.   The final recommendation that the working group agreed was to make the NEC concerned about he roles to be played by members who are retired. It was also agreed that the way the rule book is written sends out the wrong message. In the first instance rule 6.4.8 needs to be reworded to take out the reference to retired problems as this has negative connotations. A more positive emphasis should be made about promoting the interest of these members. The NEC should reword this part of the rule to show that retired members are valued and we welcome their input and assistance.

The RMAC agreed with this recommendation.

Please note the wording of the recommendations have been abridged, with the main points of the recommendation printed.

Rod Downing

RMAC Member.


Time for real Dignity in Old Age!

Pensioner groups across the country marked National Dignity Action Day on the 1st February 18 by promoting the idea that the care of older people needed urgent action.

On behalf of the CWU SE 5 Branch I attended the Wessex NPC National Dignity Day of action at the Queen Alexandra Hospital where we received a great deal of support from both staff and visitors.

The Deputy Lord Mayor of Portsmouth signed up to the Dignity Code on behalf of Portsmouth City Council.

The National Pensioners Convention Report states that Pensioners are often patronised, discriminated against and sometimes abused – something that must be acknowledged and cease.

In addition, older people also tend to have poorer housing, live alone, and have lower and reducing income. Their access to health care can be refused solely because of their age.

Some are abused mentally or physically – sometimes by carers, sometimes by relatives and our social care system is clearly broken.

 Since 2010 there have been over £5bn worth of cuts to funding and as a result over 1.2million people no longer get the care they need. Those who pay for their own care in a home often face higher bills than those who are supported by their local authority.

MPs have also recently suggested that 1.3 million pensioners are at risk of “withering away” in their own home because of malnutrition caused by loneliness. Only 29,000 people now receive Meals on Wheels, down from 155,000 a decade ago.

Jan Shortt, NPC General Secretary said: “Everything about the care of older people, from the quality and standards to the funding of services needs addressing as a matter of urgency.”

The Government has stated that they are to issue a Green Paper by the summer of this year which will be followed by a public consultation. “Sadly, the Government’s Green Paper in the summer is likely to be too little, too late.”

The CWU Retired Members Conference last week has carried a Motion inviting Members to campaign on the issue of care by all means possible.

Rod Downing

Retired Members Secretary


Retired Members Conference 2018 Report

Retired Members gathered in the Indian YMCA London on Wednesday the 31st January 2018 for our Annual Conference.

It was expected that this Conference would be well attended as the question of the voting rights for Retired Members had still not been resolved but unfortunately less than half of the Branches who have a Retired Members Section had delegates at the Conference. There are 104 Branches registered as having a Retired Members Section but only 51 branches were represented.

There were 14 motions submitted to the Conference 5 of these were not admitted to the agenda as they were ruled Out of Order.

The Motions debated were as follows:-

Motion 1 -This Motion from the RMAC dealt with the issue of Fuel Poverty in the UK, it stated that 11% of all households in the UK live in fuel poverty.

  • It called for the introduction of a national programme to introduce the heating and installation standards of existing homes so that they reach the standards of new homes.
  • It also called for legislation for all fuel companies to provide an industry wide social tariff for low income and fuel poor consumers.
  • To ensure that energy companies are obliged to offer payment packages to offline customers that are equal to those available on line.
  • To end the use of pre-payment meters.
  • To provide an annual fuel payment to all vulnerable, older and low income households of £500 which keeps pace with annual increases in average energy bills.

The Motion was carried.

Motion 2 from the North West Regional Retired Members Committee.

That there has been a rising level of cold related pensioner’s deaths, (over 34, 00 in England and Wales during the winter of 2016/17) the motion called upon the RMAC to raise the profile of this issue to the National Executive Committee. It also called upon the NEC to support the National Pensioners Commission call for the Government to establish a fuel poverty Commission to deal with cold related deaths.

The motion was carried.

Motion 3 from Coventry Retired Members.

There is an ongoing crisis developing in the NHS that affects all those in need of health care, and the elderly and pensioners are massively affected by these cuts.

Conference is asked to agree that a major campaign is required to stop the continuation of Privatisation in the health service, and for the service to be reinvigorated with the required funding to meet the need of all.

The motion went on to call for the TUC to organise a national demonstration calling for the end of privatisation in the health service and social care. It also called upon a Labour government to end PFI in the health service.

The Motion was carried.

 Motion 4 Submitted by the RAMC

It has been noted that the Government is to publish a Green Paper on care and support for older people in England by summer this year. The paper will set out plans how the Government propose to improve care and support for older people, and to tackle the challenge of an ageing population. The motion called upon the RMAC to work with organisations such as the NPC, TUC and the NFOP to respond to the public consultation which is to be held once the bill is published.

The Motion was carried.

Motion 5 from the Midland Region Retired members Committee.

The Motion said that the Conference was extremely disappointed at the delay in dealing with Motion 29 at General Conference 2017.

 Motion 29 from the NEC called for a report to Branches by the end of September. The Motion went on to say that it would be at least the end of February before a report on the NEC recommendation could be published. The motion called for the RMAC as a matter of urgency to enter dialog with the NEC to put on hold the additional paragraph to the Branch Constitution relating to Retired Members voting for Branch Officers, until a report that is acceptable to Branch is published.

The Motion was carried.

Motion 6 from Midland No.1 Branch.

This Motion instructed the RMAC to request the NEC to explain why the instructions clearly contained in Motion 35 at General Conference 2017 have not been complied with. (Motion 35 Called for the NEC to publish the advice given by solicitors on the issue of Retired member voting for Branch officers.)

The Motion was carried.

Motion 7 was a Composite Motion by SE.No.5 Branch and SE Retired Members Committee.

The Motion called for the Conference to agree that the National Retired members Web Page is not fit for purpose, in that it does not provide the facility for the publication of reports and articles that are relevant to the retired members of the union.

The motion called upon the RMAC to work with the NEC and the Communications Department to restore the facilities that were previously available to Retired members . The Motion was carried.

Motion 8 from Greater Mersey and SW Lancs.

his Motion said that with the Retired Members Conference being held in the depths of winter, with many aged and infirm members having to travel distances at this time of the year it would be better suited to be held in the autumn period. It was pointed out that may of the Equality Conferences are held in this period before winter sets in.

It called for the RMAC to work and advise the NEC to seek an autumn venue in time for the next Retired Members Conference.

The Motion was carried.

Motion 9 from South East Wales Amal.

he Branch called for the Conference to instruct the RMAC in conjunction with the NEC to work with the CWU Education Department to review the content of the Retired Members Weekend courses as a part of the Re-Design Project , as the current course is not fit for purpose.

The content of the course as a minimum should reflect the variations of legislation within the UK & include at minimum an awareness of the state pension entitlement, plus care and dementia awareness. The course should continue to be available to all Retired members.

The Motion Was carried.

Motions No’s 1 and 5 were agreed by the delegates to be placed before the Unions Annual Conference in April 2018.

Tony Kearns, Deputy General Secretary’s said in his Closing Speech.

This Conference allows us to come together every year and express our views. I can fully understand the feelings that you have on many issues, but I found some of the things said here today very upsetting. I understand the need for communications with the retired members but do not come here today and accept that we do not give the Retied members the support of the union. The Union has been actively supporting the RMT Union in their dispute over driver only trains, and we understand the need for there to be assistance for the elderly and the disabled on trains. There have been a number of Motions submitted to the TUC Conference on retired member’s issues, so please don’t come here and say that Headquarters are ignoring you completely.

Tony when on to report on the relationship with the Labour Party and the importance of supporting the party. In closing he said, `` we know there are differences between us, and we have to find a way through these difficulties. We have to show we are at one with our members, so we need to be as one and there is a need for all of us to identify the difference’s and find a better way of dealing with this internally. Go out and support Groups & Unions that are fighting for a better society so we can all have a better society for our Children & Grand Children.

The Conference closed at 14 30.


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