Government must act now to end UK pensioner poverty shame in the EU

August 19, 2009 12:00 AM

Rochdale's Older People Champion - Councillor Pauline Maguire!Rochdale's Cabinet Member for Older People Councillor Pauline Maguire has called on the Government to act now after recently released figures revealed that Britain has the fourth highest levels of poverty in the EU.

The new figures from the European Commission's statistical agency Eurostat reveal that, even before the recession set in, a higher proportion of older people in the UK were living on incomes far below the national average compared to those in countries such as Poland and Romania.

Councillor Pauline Maguire said: "These figures clearly show years of neglect by our Government towards pensioners in Rochdale and across the country. Whilst the general wealth of the nation has increased over the last decade, older people's pensions simply haven't kept up. I am calling on the government to do something now to help our older people, especially during the recession.

Councillor Maguire added: "Our Council has led the way in making sure the needs of older people in Rochdale are met by developing a clear older people strategy. It's important that we promote a positive approach to ageing, help older people maintain their dignity and independence and reduce poverty in old age."

Rochdale's MP Paul Rowen has backed Councillor Maguire's call saying: "Pensioner poverty, whether absolute or relative, has got even worse under Labour. Last winter I was shocked by the number of local pensioners that came to see me who couldn't afford to pay their heating bills. Some even told me that they had resulted in turning their heating off, putting themselves at risk of hypothermia. For this to be happening to older people in Rochdale in 2009 is nothing short of criminal."

Mr Rowen added: "To lift millions of pensioners out of poverty and prevent this situation from getting worse in the future, the Government and the next must find a more effective system to ensure benefits reach those who need them and meet the existing commitment to reform the pension system by 2012. This is something I will be pushing hard for in my position as Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Works and Pensions."