Paul Rowen says over 2,000 pensioners could be missing out due to means-testing in Rochdale!

March 15, 2005 12:33 PM

The Liberal Democrats have just launched their Older Peoples Mini-Manifesto by setting out the various ways they intend to help pensioners across the country.

Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rochdale Paul Rowen, commenting on the implications of the launch for Rochdale, said:

"Over 13,000 people in Rochdale, are over the age of 75 and are amongst the poorest in the region. Over 5,000 pensioner households in the Rochdale Constituency area already claim the means-tested Pension Credit - but over 2,000 pensioners in Rochdale could be missing out as an estimated third of all pensioners do not claim the money they deserve and need. Our plans for a Citizen's Pension, based on residency and not contributions and set at a decent level, will dramatically cut means-testing, will be fairer for women and are gaining favor in all quarters."

The Liberal Democrat package includes

· The Citizen's Pension guaranteeing more than £100 a month on the pension for single pensioners over 75 (more than £140 for couples)

· Free long term personal care for the elderly, which will benefit 220,000 people in 2006.

· The abolition of Council Tax and its replacement with Local Income Tax- 8m pensioners will pay less, 6m pensioners will pay nothing at all.

There are currently close to 4 million people aged over 75 in England and Wales. Parts of the North West have some of the highest numbers of older pensioners over the age of 75 in the country. Greater Manchester is the second highest with over 170,000 of the population over the age of 75, Merseyside is sixth highest with over 100,000 and Lancashire has just under 90,000 over 75s.

All of these people would have their basic state pension increased by, at the very least, £100 a month under Liberal Democrat plans for a Citizen's Pension.

Commenting at the launch Charles Kennedy Liberal Democrat Leader, said:

"It's time that Britain's pensioners were treated with the respect they deserve by politicians. Our carefully costed package is worth nearly £7 billion a year over and above what Labour is currently offering to pensioners - and over £4 billion more than the Conservatives.

"It is inexcusable that 2 million pensioners today live below the Government's own poverty line. And it is, quite simply, a scandal that many women pensioners are not entitled to a pension at all in their own right. It's time to be honest about the fact that the state pension is currently set at 25% below the poverty line, with pensioners then expected to jump through the hoops of means-testing to claim the rest.

"Our promise, at this election, will be to add over £100 extra a month for a single pensioner over 75, and over £140 extra a month for a pensioner couple. That will make a real difference.

"We need a new vision - one that treats our older citizens with respect. It's time for a real alternative for older people. The Liberal Democrats are the real alternative."

Paul Rowen added:

"The choice for older people couldn't be clearer. The Liberal Democrats are the only party that will lift the most vulnerable pensioners out of poverty, who will close the gap between men and women and who will give dignity to those needing long-term personal care."