It is now more important than ever to ensure that older and retired members have a strong voice. The government's erosion of pension entitlement by linking increases to the lower ‘cost price’ instead of ‘retail price’ index continues to erode the value of both public sector and state pensions.
The much publicised new single tier state pension that promised a simplified pension system is anything but that with public sector workers being awarded lower state pensions for being members of the employee pension schemes and contracting out of the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS).
The decision to end the Age Related Personal Tax Allowance has further hit members in the pocket. At the same time the highest earners have had their income tax cut.
It is not just older or retired people who have to pay ever, increasing fuel bills but many pensioners on small incomes have limited scope to increase their income and growing numbers face fuel poverty.
There is also a major debate about the continuing privatisation of the NHS and funding of social care and it is vital that we keep MPs of all political parties focussed on these issues.
Our concerns are not limited to ourselves but for our families and our communities:
- Can young people get a job?
- Can they afford an education?
- How long will they need to work?
- What sort of pension will they have at the end of it?
- What type of public services will we have in our communities?
- What care is available for the old and sick?
- Public services such as transport
All of these are questions ARMs members ask and lobby and campaign on.
Working with other unions' retired members and older people's groups
We also work to ensure we have a voice along with other union retired members' groups regarding the provision of local services, bus passes, winter fuel allowance, free prescriptions/eyesight tests and TV licenses for over 75's. All of which still do not compensate for a State Pension which is one of the worst in Europe and stands at 50% of the EU average. You can find out more about the issues we campaign on and the work we do with partner organisations on this website and the ARMs Blog.
Our members are not based in the workplace but we do have a voice. We can lobby our MPs and local politicians; also join in PCS, London, East and South East region of the TUC, National Pensioner Convention activities (usually in Central London) and participate in local trades councils. Our ARMS region aims to ensure members do that in the most effective way we can.
If you want to know more about the region, be involved in any of its activities or raise any issue with the committee please contact the regional secretary – Peter Woods or one of the other committee members.