A pensioners group has attacked the Westminster government for withholding information on the effects of Brexit.
The Irish Times has reported that 16 pharmaceutical companies and 10 trade associations working with the British Government have been forced to sign gagging orders barring them from sharing information to the public in the event of a no deal. The information was released following a FOI request by Labour MP Rashana Ali.
Ian Richmond, for Dumfries and Galloway Pensioners for Independence said, this is extremely concerning for our members and indeed for pensioners throughout Dumfries and Galloway and Scotland. Many older people rely on regular prescriptions. It is worrying when the government deliberately withholds information preventing them planning for the future.
The secretive nature of the government's actions is doubly worrying. By forcing these non disclosure agreements they only show that they have something serious to hide.
Dumfries and Galloway Pensioners for Independence, a non-political group, urged Scottish Secretary David Mundell to come clean with his electorate.
Local Pensioners action group, Dumfries and Galloway Pensioners for Independence has reacted angrily to a charity report that 3000 people a year are dying as a result of not being able to afford to heat their own home. This puts the UK as the second worst country in Europe for fuel poverty deaths.
A high proportion of those who have died as a result of the Westminster government’s callous disregard are likely to be pensioners. UK pensions are the lowest in the developed world.
Dumfries and Galloway Pensioners for Independence, a non-political pressure group called upon local MPs David Mundell and Alister Jack to pressurise the Tory government to bring pensions and benefits up to par to halt these needless deaths.
They also pointed out a number of things pensioners could do –
Firstly get what you have paid for. Over the course of their working life pensioners have paid their contributions. They should ensure they get back what was promised. As well as the basic pension, pensioners could be entitled to other benefits such as Pension Credit, Carers Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Housing Benefit, Discretionary Housing Payment, Mortgage Interest Support, Council Tax Reduction, Winter Fuel Payments, Free TV Licence, Free or reduced travel. It is important that independent advice is sought before making claims. Age Scotland and the Citizens Advice Bureau provide free advice.
Secondly wrap up well. Get to know how the timer and thermostat on your heating system work. If it’s very cold, set the timer to switch the heating on earlier, rather than turning the thermostat up to warm your house quickly. If you have individual thermostats on your radiators, set them at higher temperatures in the rooms where you spend more time. Put guards on open fires, and don’t hang washing too close to the fire. Don’t block up air vents as fires and heaters need good ventilation, which also helps to prevent condensation, but check draughts around and under doors with insulating felt or a simple draught excluder. Loft insulation can really make a big difference to keeping the heat in your home. Even if you've got insulation, it's worth checking it's up to standard. Lagging pipes can help to avoid burst pipes. Roll out carpets on floors and draw the curtains.
Check if you are eligible for specific help with heating costs. You could be eligible for financial help if you receive certain benefits such as Pension Credit or Attendance Allowance, you’re a tenant living in social housing that’s not energy efficient or your local council assesses you as needing financial support. To find out about this and similar Home Energy Efficiency Programmes scheme, call Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282. This is funded by the Scottish Government.
Check your current energy tariff and shop around to see if you can get a better deal. Contact your energy supplier if you’re having trouble paying your bills. Companies should not disconnect all-pensioner households during the winter months.
When venturing outdoors, make sure you keep your hands and face warm. As well as wearing gloves and a hat, always wrap a scarf around your face when you go out in cold weather, even for short intervals. This helps to warm up the air you breathe in. If your hands and face get cold this can cause a rise in blood pressure, which puts you at risk of a heart attack. Several thin layers of clothing will keep you warmer than one thick layer, as the layers trap warm air between them. Start with thermal underwear, warm tights or wool socks. Keep your feet warm. As with your hands and face, cold feet can trigger a potentially dangerous rise in blood pressure. Choose boots with non-slip soles and a warm lining, or wear thermal socks. These boots not only keep your feet warm, they also keep you safe if the ground is slippery.
Keep Safe! You need to have your boiler serviced every year by a qualified gas service engineer.
If you are on gas you should have a gas alarm. If you are a tenant your landlord should check your gas heating and appliances every year.
Check your radiators. If your radiators are cold at the top and hot at the bottom, they’ll need bleeding. Turn off your heating and get a cloth and a bleed key ready (these are available quite cheaply at any DIY store). At the top of your radiator, turn the valve anti-clockwise until you hear a hiss (don’t worry, it’s only air). Hold a rag below to catch any water that drips. Once water starts to flow, tighten the valve up and you’re done.
There is much else that pensioners can do to stay healthy over winter. Staying active is not only essential for your general wellbeing and fitness – it also generates heat and helps to keep you warm. When you’re indoors, try not to sit still for more than an hour. Get up and walk around and spread out any chores throughout the day. If walking is difficult you can do chair based exercises while sitting or holding on to the back of a chair. Even moving your arms and legs and wiggling your toes can help you keep warm. Have your flu jab, order repeat prescriptions well in advance particularly if cold weather is forecast – check if your pharmacist will deliver, stock up on simple non-prescription cold & flu remedies. Eat at least one hot meal each day and have hot drinks during the day. Have a hot drink before going to bed and keep one in a flask by your bedside. Include a good range of foods in your diet and aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, so that you’re getting plenty of nutrients and vitamins. Frozen vegetables are as good as fresh. It’s important to eat enough, especially in winter.
Dumfries and Galloway Pensioners for Independence has called for carers to be paid a minimum £30,000 a year to avoid a care crisis.
The Westminster government’s chaotic handling of the Brexit debacle will see threshold earnings of £30,000 for workers from outside the UK.
The care industry in the UK is heavily dependent on European workers to provide necessary care for elderly and disadvantaged people. This group is heavily dependent on care workers for the daily necessities of life as well as the ability to remain in their own homes.
The care provided by these dedicated and hard working professionals merits these payments. We ask people - who do you value higher: the care worker who is your mother’s only daily contact with the outside world, who washes her and takes care of her toilet, who feeds her and gives her a reason to live; or a politician?
A rank and file MP gets £77,379 (on top of their expenses). An experienced Care Worker might earn an average of £16,000.
The withdrawal of care workers will mean the elderly and vulnerable being shunted into care homes and the inevitable clogging up of the NHS – affecting everyone.
The only way to avoid this catastrophe, by Westminster’s own standards, is to pay Care Workers a minimum £30,000.
Pensioners were completely forgotten in Philip Hammond's budget. While the richest were given tax cuts, our pensioners have to struggle on with the worst pensions in the developed world. Across the globe, from Ireland to Chile, independent countries support their pensioners. In the UK, pensions have shamefully fallen to less than a third of average wages.
While austerity was eased for businesses and the better off, there was very little for the old, the vulnerable and those in poverty. The chancellor failed to address major issues with the care sector, promising only "difficult choices" in forthcoming Tory plans. The difficult choice facing pensioners this Christmas is Heat or Eat.
Dumfries and Galloway Pensioners for Independence hit back at attacks on pensioners homes.
Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard has called for taxation on wealth while the left wing think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research has proposed the replacement of council tax with a tax on property values.
Both these proposals would disproportionately hit pensioners.
The Labour Party needs to understand that pensioners have not accumulated masses of disposable wealth. They are living in their family homes which they worked hard for over the years.
Many pensioners bought their homes in the 90’s to make provision for their retirement.
The fact that those homes have risen in value is not the fault of the pensioners themselves but of successive Labour and Tory governments which have failed to build enough affordable houses. The last Labour administration in Scotland built a mere 6 council houses. It is this failure of the mainstream parties which has forced up the value of homes.
There is a mistaken assumption that pensioners owning their homes is indicative of wealth, when in fact it is more likely to be the case that these pensioners have little or no disposable income. Indeed many are already reliant on family members to give support which would normally be given by the state eg personal care; assistance with transport: preparation of meals; home cleaning etc. There are large numbers of pensioners who do not wish to be seen to be reliant on charity. So to attack them in their homes is an affront to their hard work over many years, and the huge amount of unpaid support given by family members.
The so-called wealth tied up in family homes is not disposable income. If anything pensioners struggle to maintain their homes in the face of risible interest rates on their savings and the lowest pensions in the developed world.
We worked hard for our homes. They are filled with memories of families we raised and saw take flight. In too many cases they are memories of beloved partners no longer with us.
We call upon Richard Leonard and his Labour Party to leave us our memories and leave us our homes.