Where are the millionaire pensioners in Northern Ireland? That is the question being posed during the final day of the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament in Belfast today.
With much talk of benefits being withdrawn for wealthy pensioners during the past year, Parliament organisers are keen to expose the myth of the ‘millionaire pensioner’ and state the facts about average pensioners in Northern Ireland, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet.
The Parliament, organised by Age Sector Platform, has seen almost 200 older people from across Northern Ireland gather to debate and vote on topics that concern them. Today’s packed agenda will see discussion on energy prices, food prices, pensions and benefits, with a panel of MPs expected to be challenged on the myth of the ‘millionaire pensioner’ during the Parliament’s afternoon session.
Michael Monaghan, Chair of the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, said:
“Four out of five pensioners here are worried about keeping warm in winter. Two out of three are concerned about the rising cost of food. It is clear that these figures paint a very different picture to that of the millionaire pensioner being put forward by the Coalition Government.”
“Pensioner poverty is much higher in Northern Ireland than any other region in the UK, yet there has been no reprieve from the series of damaging decisions made by the Coalition Government over the last few years. The reduction in the Winter Fuel Payment, the introduction of the so-called Granny Tax and the raising of the state pension age have resulted in thousands of older people in Northern Ireland having to survive on a lot less than before. Yet our Government continues to falsely represent our generation as a group of wealthy pensioners who are unreasonable for expecting some assistance from the state after decades of contribution, both socially and financially.”
“Our devolved Assembly must also look at addressing some of the hardship facing pensioners in Northern Ireland. Almost two out of three older people in Northern Ireland are living in fuel poverty, and yet our Executive has made little progress in tackling this serious matter. Most of the actions taken have focussed on the energy efficiency of homes and whilst these are welcome, they cannot solve fuel poverty alone and much more must be done to address low incomes and spiralling energy prices. We know that this is a challenging issue, but our Executive must have the courage to think outside the box, and strive to see solutions rather than obstacles.”
“Last winter the number of excess deaths in Northern Ireland was 496; all of whom were people aged over 65. The last time all excess winter deaths were older people was 14 years ago. It is clear that older people are being hit hardest by the rising cost of energy and the reduction to their incomes.”
For more information on the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, visit www.pensionersparliament.org or phone 028 9031 2089.