Pensioners from across Northern Ireland will meet in Belfast today to help launch a national ‘Hands Off’ campaign which aims to protect their winter fuel payments, bus passes, free prescriptions and TV licences.
The campaigners are raising their banner following the main political parties at Westminster indicating these benefits may be under threat.
The ‘Hands Off’ campaign is being officially backed by Age Sector Platform in Northern Ireland, the National Pensioners’ Convention, the Welsh Senate of Older People and the Scottish Seniors Alliance.
Nixon Armstrong from Age Sector Platform said: “During the last year, pensioners have felt under constant attack. The myth that older people have escaped any austerity measures is totally groundless, and we will fight to ensure there are no further cuts or means‑testing of vital benefits such as the winter fuel payment, bus pass, free prescriptions or TV licences.”
Dot Gibson from the National Pensioners’ Convention said: “The real reason why pensioners need additional benefits such as the winter fuel allowance and the free bus pass is because our state pension is so poor.
“Yet despite this, every year older people add an extra £40 billion to the economy in taxes, volunteering and unpaid caring.
“Universal benefits help to keep people active, independent, warm in their homes, healthy and involved in their communities. Removing universal benefits isn’t about saving money or about stopping millionaires from getting a free ride on their local bus – it’s about undermining the welfare state.”
Campaigners are asking people of all ages to sign their online e-petition and to email their local MP via the campaign website at www.handsoff.org.uk.