Pensioners to boycott Tories over ‘broken promises’ on cost of living crisis this week
State pension rise is 'woefully insufficient' says expert
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Campaign groups have expressed outrage at the Government in recent months for failing to support older people amid the escalating cost of living crisis. Organisations have warned that millions of pensioners on fixed-term incomes are struggling to cope with the mounting costs of bare essentials ranging from fuel and food to heating bills and have not received the help needed to weather the storm.
Now, one group campaigning for older people’s rights is calling on its members to boycott the Conservatives in local elections this week (May 5) over what they have dubbed their many “broken promises” to Britain’s pensioners.
Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, told Express.co.uk that the organisation has urged its membership of over 5,000 people not to vote for the Tory party in the polls.
He said: “There have just been so many broken promises to older people that there is a feeling amongst our membership, and wider than that, that the Conservatives are basically just taking older votes for granted.
“They are not doing anything for us at all and therefore they need to be taught a sharp lesson. And the first chance we’ve got to teach them a sharp lesson is in the local elections.”
The move is the result of a referendum held by Silver Voices last year in which it asked its members whether older people should be urged not to support the Conservatives in future elections if they broke their manifesto promise not to suspend the triple lock on state pensions, which the Government has now suspended for the 2022/2023 tax year.
A whopping 97 percent of its membership voted in favour of the motion, which the group is now putting into action.
With inflation now running at 7 percent while state pensions have only increased by 3.1 percent by April, Mr Reed explained that the implications of the suspension have been “catastrophic” for older people and turned even loyal Tories away from supporting them in the upcoming election.
He said: “The consequences of that broken promise are being brought home every day to our members, so they’re reinforced in their view that the Conservatives on this occasion don’t deserve their votes.
“Many of them have previously been loyal Conservative Party voters. Even some members have said to us that they’re not going to vote Conservative anymore because of this broken promise.”
Despite the Tories having traditionally enjoyed widespread support from older voters, Mr Reed explained that the triple lock suspension was just one of many pledges that had risked depriving them of the “silver vote”.
Other broken promises include the scrapping of the free TV licence for over 75s and the Government slashing dementia research funding despite the Conservative’s manifesto promise to double funding in its last election campaign.
Mr Reed also said that the Government’s failures in social care had left millions of older people without the support they needed.
He said: “Boris Johnson made a promise to older people on the steps of 10 Downing Street that he would fix the social care crisis once and for all. He hasn’t done so.
“The plans that they brought forward do nothing to resolve the problem for one and a half million older people who are not getting the social care support they need.”
He said that a lot of his members “don’t know where to turn to next” as the Government overlooked Britain’s older people, particularly the 12 million Britons who receive the state pension.
He told Express.co.uk: “I think there’s a feeling of despondency and being left to swing in the storm. If there was a safety rope that they could jump onto, they would do it. But there doesn’t appear to be a safety rope they could jump on to so they’re just being left there.”
He said the Government had ignored “the plight of state pensioners” in the support they have so far announced in the midst of the cost of living crisis, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s much-criticised Spring statement delivered in March.
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Mr Reed said: “We see no signs of things changing because when the Chancellor made his last statement on the support for the energy crisis, he didn’t mention older people at all.
“In none of the statements that have been made about the cost of living crisis, either last autumn or more recently in March, has the plight of state pensioners, many of whom rely solely on the state pension for their income, been mentioned.”
With the group seeing no signals that the Conservatives have heeded their calls for support, Mr Reed explained that the upcoming elections gave older people a chance to show their opposition to the Government’s policies through the ballot paper.
He said: “I think they’re still thinking [their] core vote is pretty safe. We might lose a few around the edges, but our core vote is pretty safe. And we’re here to say that it’s not safe, and we’re going to show you is not safe.
He added: “It’s no good not voting. We’re in a democracy, it’s very important that people vote. And it’s important that you vote against the Conservatives on this occasion to show our displeasure about their broken promises.”
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