Motion 5: Older People
· Conference recognises the social exclusion of older people, as addressed in the OFMDFM consultation, “Ageing in an Inclusive Society”.
· Conference declares that access to income and transport are two critical factors contributing to social inclusion.
· Conference calls for an immediate improvement in the Basic State Pension, with future increased based on national average earnings, in order to provide a modest yet adequate income.
· Conference calls for the Department of Regional Development to make the Smart Pass available to women aged 60-64, as they are eligible for the state pension.
Proposer, Alderman Kieran McCarthy MLA, will say:
“Our senior citizens are socially excluded.
“Older people in Northern Ireland experience social exclusion, and this has been formally acknowledged in a cross-Departmental working group, which included the likes of Age Concern, Help the Aged and Rural Network Voluntary Action.
“I look forward to the action plan to be implemented on the back of their report.
“Goodness knows our senior citizens have been suffering long enough.
“Sure, wasn’t it Margaret Thatcher that broke the link between pensions and earnings?
“The latest intervention by the Labour Government is the Pension Credit scheme. My experience has been one of crisis, ever since its inception. Indeed, we are told frequently that many, many senior citizens simply do not get what they are entitled to, either by lack of knowledge or by having to fill in horrendously complicated forms.
“We hear so much talk of equality these days, but surely the fact that women who are entitled to collect their state pension at age 60 should not have to wait until their 65th birthday to qualify for free public transport.
“Furthermore, there are a great many actions that would improve society for all of our senior citizens:
· An end to age discrimination
· Scrap mandatory retirement ages
· Keep the state pension at age 65 and increase its provision
· Make form filling easier to understand
· Provide free transport for all senior citizens
· Equality in health provision
· Make homes more secure
· Free nursing and personal care for all who need it
“Alliance will continue to be at the forefront to ensure all senior citizens enjoy a better quality of life in Northern Ireland.”
Seconder, Yvonne Boyle, will say:
“Our elderly population is growing, and the majority of our elderly population is women.
“Women have contributed to society through unpaid work at home, as well as for caring for relatives. Yet such women are excluded from the state benefit system. So they didn’t pay money into the state retirement scheme. How much money would it have cost the Government to pay outright for the invaluable care work they did?
“The answer is to recognise this important contribution by extending the benefit system.
“Free personal care for older people would ensure that whether they live at home or in residential care, they are empowered to make the most of their remaining years, without undue financial worries.
“We need to acknowledge our interdependence with older people, and through valuing their human rights. This will improve the quality of life of everyone.”