The Civil Service Pensioners Alliance
Link to CSPA Website – www.cspa.co.uk
We hope that this edition of the newsletter finds you well and tolerating the winter weather to the best of your ability. In the UK we seem to be experiencing one storm after another with some terrible and repeated flooding. This has also meant that any new year resolutions to get fit in the great outdoors have been put on the back burner for now! As I write this, daffodils are blooming and so there is hope that spring may at last have arrived.
In the last issue of the Alliance newsletter, I wrote about our General Election campaign, if you took action and contacted your local candidates then “thank you!”
We have followed up on this campaign by contacting all those MPs now in parliament who responded to our members. The General Secretary (GS), Lisa Ray and Assistant General Secretary (AGS), David Luxton, have met with Stephen Morgan MP and Rob Roberts MP to talk through the importance of ensuring that older people are supported and appreciated for the value that they bring to their local communities and economies. We discussed in detail, the need for cross party cooperation and agreement on resolving the social care crisis and our concerns over the increase in Financial exclusion, though closure of bank branches among other issues. More meetings with MPs from all parties are timetabled to take place during March.
We now have a majority Conservative Government and this will now bring some relative stability to progress other policy issues. The triple lock on Basic State Pension increases is reckoned to be safe. The withdrawal of the free TV Licence for those over 75 by the BBC ( after it was told to fund it in negotiations under George Osbourne as Chancellor), now seems to be morphing into questions about the justification for a TV Licence at all. The Government has launched a consultation into decriminalisation of TV licence evasion. This may have worrying and far-reaching implications for the services provided by the UK’s National Broadcaster.
Boris Johnson’s Government has quickly got to work on its promises to voters around Brexit. The UK left the EC at the end of January, and as I write, negotiations are beginning on the future trade relationship with Europe. The Prime Minister has said that he wants everything finalised in these negotiations by the end of the year. We don’t yet know how these will talks will unfold, but we continue to push specifically for
- The EC health insurance card to continue beyond the end of the year
- Ensuring that workers from the EC who provide care in the NHS and Social Care system are able to come to and remain in the UK on an ongoing basis
- The Government to ensure that all British residents in the European Union should retain their current benefits and pensions during and after the negotiations.
At the same time, talks on a possible trade relationship with the USA are also underway. There have already been stories in the media about protecting the NHS, drug prices, and standards in food production. Any future deal will of course have an impact on the UK economy and in turn the funds available to support older people and services that they use.
CSPA’s General Secretary, Lisa Ray and Assistant General Secretary, David Luxton, meeting with Stephen Morgan MP
Assistant General Secretary, David Luxton, meeting with Rob Roberts MP
The new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, will shortly present his first budget. Timings for this appear to currently be under review due to the unknown consequences of the Corona virus. Together with our partners in Later Life Ambitions we have launched an online survey to ask members what is most important to them in the upcoming budget. If you would like to take part, please click on this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QDHR8V5
At this time of year members of the Executive Council are getting ready to travel around the UK to speak to Alliance Groups and Branches about the work we have been doing at a national level. We enjoy meeting members and hearing their concerns, ideas and answering questions where possible. Many groups are unfortunately struggling to secure volunteers to take on committee roles. The Alliance’s Organisation and Recruitment Committee has been working on ideas to help groups to ease the difficulties faced. This seems to be a common problem for many membership and volunteer organisations and we are grateful to those who give their time and efforts to the Alliance.
CSPA meeting with the Cabinet Office
Meeting with the Cabinet Office
The GS, AGS and John Jarvis, Secretary Administration, continue to meet regularly with Cabinet Office officials to talk about Civil Service Pensions and to try and secure the best service possible for our members through the pension administrator, MyCSP. Some of the issues discussed with them at the end of January included the legal advice that the Alliance had taken on the Limitation Act ( impacting how far back the pensions administrator can go where a pension overpayment has occurred) Reviews of pensions in payment and upcoming reviews of records of deferred pensions. Our campaign on Lifetime Survivor Benefits which we are now taking into Parliament, and the implications of the Mc Cloud judgement, whereby all Public Service Pension Schemes must ensure that no one has been treated unfairly due to their age during the transition to new Pension Schemes from April 2015.
The Alliance has been monitoring rapidly unfolding developments in news of the Coronavirus. Currently, it is business as usual for us, but this will be kept under review.
We understand that some members may be feeling concerned. The situation is very changeable and we advise all members, their family and friends, to keep themselves informed by listening to the news and checking government and NHS guidance, which can be found at these links:
It is most important to look after your health and those around you. The basic way you can do this is to wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose or eyes and if you cough or sneeze cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or with your elbow. Throw the tissue away in a bin immediately.
If you feel unwell with the symptoms of the virus, which are similar to flu, with a dry persistent cough, NHS England advises that you DO NOT go to the GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, but instead call telephone number 111.
Getting help in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
Scotland: call your GP surgery or call 111 if your surgery is not open
Wales: call 111 (if available in your area) or call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47
Northern Ireland: call 0300 200 7885
Alternatively go online to the 111 Corona virus service here: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19
Making Cities More Age-Friendly
With a growing pensioner population, politicians and policymakers have been looking at changes that are needed to make Cities more `age-friendly`. Alliance representatives Mike Sparham and Sylvia Smith from the Lewisham Group and Linda Ridgers-Waite from the Inner London Group, together with the AGS, David Luxton, recently attended a meeting at London`s City Hall organised under the direction of the Mayor’s Office; Age UK; and Positive Ageing in London. The event followed a series of seminars and other events to respond to the World Health Organisation’s agenda for `Age Friendly Cities`. Further information can be found by clicking this link:
The aim behind the initiative is to create an Action Plan for London to be built into all planning policy that takes full account of the needs of older people. As many of the policy themes apply across all towns and cities the issues raised are of wider relevance to the Alliance`s wider campaigns to address issues affecting older people.
There are 8 domains in the plan for ‘Making Cities Age Friendly’ as set out below, under which specific policy Action points are being agreed:
Respect and Social Inclusion
Communication and Information
Civic, Cultural and Social Participation
Outdoor Spaces and Buildings
Health and Social Care
Employment and Skills
A long list of Action points have been agreed under each domain heading and will be included in a report to be published after the London Mayoral election in May. The Alliance is closely monitoring developments and how the list of action points can be used in our wider campaigning through Late Life Ambitions.
Working with Age UK
We continue to work with AGE UK on issues that matter to older people. You can sign their Make Care Fair petition online here campaigns.ageuk.org.uk
TV Licence Campaign
The withdrawal of free TV licences for those over 75 years old has caused an outcry. The Government however has shown no signs of taking back control of this benefit, but has instead told the BBC to “cough up” and pay for it. Letters will be issued to those who are now expected to pay in April, with details of how to spread costs and if they qualify,apply for pension credit. It is predicted that the upturn in applications for pension credit ( which gives a right to continue to receive a free TV licence) may be around10% of those already in receipt- this will wipe out any savings made by the Government in passing on responsibility for this benefit to the BBC! The protests on this will continue. It cannot be right that a benefit brought in the supplement the poor level of state pension is allowed to disappear.
Red Button Service
The BBC has postponed a decision to discontinue its red button service, which was brought in to replace Ceefax in 1999. The service is simply accessed through the red button on the TV remote and provides information on local headlines, football scores, weather and travel news. This service is valuable to those who are not online. We will be meeting with the BBC shortly to explain why this service must continue. You can help us to support the campaign by writing to the BBC Director General, Lord Tony Hall, BBC, Broadcasting House,Portland Place,London WC1A 1AA
Keep well, we hope that you have found this latest edition of the newsletter interesting. We will be back in touch again soon!
SPRING BUDGET 2020 HIGHLIGHTS
Public Service Pensioners Council Letter
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, delivered his Budget for 2020, a copy of the Budget Statement is attached for your information. During his speech he outlined a number of measures the Government are putting in place to safeguard against the impacts of Coronavirus on the economy. Other themes included large increases in spending and “levelling up” investment across the country. As expected, the Budget included next to nothing on social care but a welcome inclusion was the commitment to bring legislation forward to protect access to cash.
Alongside the Budget the Government also published the anticipated consultation on reforming RPI methodology. A copy of the Consultation Document is also attached, but you will see that the consultation questions are restricted to the impact on gilts of removing RPI, whereas the focus of PSPC is on the inconsistency of using RPI for regulated price increases yet use CPI for pension and benefit increases. The consultation does provide the opportunity to comment more widely on fixing the flaws in the methodology used in RPI and need for an accurate and reliable indicator of inflation that is applied consistently. For background information on this issue please refer to the PSPC Update issued on 10 September 2019.
Please find a summary of relevant key points from the Budget below:
- The tapered annual allowance thresholds will each be raised by £90,000, which means that from 2020-21 the “threshold income” will be £200,000, so individuals with income below this level will not be affected by the tapered annual allowance;
- This will mean that the taper no longer affects 98% of consultants and 96% of GPs;
- The annual allowance will only begin to taper down for individuals who also have an “adjusted income” above £240,000;
- For those on the very highest incomes, the minimum level to which the annual allowance can taper down will reduce from £10,000 to £4,000 from April 2020. This reduction will only affect individuals with total income (including pension accrual) over £300,000;
- The lifetime allowance, the maximum amount someone can accrue in a registered pension scheme in a tax-efficient manner over their lifetime, will increase in line with CPI for 2020-21, rising to £1,073,100.
- The Government will bring forward legislation to protect access to cash and ensure that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the long-term.
- £50m to improve accessibility at 12 stations.
- The Government reaffirmed that they will remove hospital car parking fees in England for those in greatest need.
Public Service Pensioners Council
Please support the PSPC General Election Campaign. Click below to download our Manifesto and Template letter to Parliamentary candidates.
- PSPC 2017 General Election Manifesto
- PSPC Template Letter to Parliamentary Candidates
- General Secretary Brief Note of AGM May 2017
- PSPC Camapigns Update May 2017
The purpose of this post is to tell you how you and your members can get involved with the PSPC General Election Campaign. Those of you who attended the PSPC AGM will have heard our plans. They are outlined more fully in the attached Campaigns Update and Brief note of the AGM.
The Council would very much appreciate the help of constituent organisations in contacting as many candidates as possible, whilst they are campaigning for votes. We want whoever is elected to be in no doubt about what we require of the next Government.
Attached to this email you will find a template letter for use by your members to write or email local parliamentary candidates. The latest version of the PSPC manifesto is also attached. These documents can also be downloaded from the PSPC website at the following link: http://publicservicepensioners.org.uk/
The template letter outlines the PSPC campaign and poses questions to candidates on the following issues:
- The Triple Lock, a good level of state pension, and a fair method of indexation for public sector pensions
- Universal Pensioner Benefits
- Pensions for Life for those widow(ers) who remarry or cohabit
- Uprating of state pensions in the EU post Brexit
Any member who does not know who is standing for election in their constituency can access https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/. This site gives details and contact information of local candidates when a postcode is entered. (Please note that this site is being updated as candidates are announced).
It is important that we get our campaign message out to as many prospective parliamentary candidates as possible.
I hope that you will strongly encourage your members, in the short time available, to ask the questions PSPC have posed, by letter, email and/or in person.
I would be interested to see copies of any responses received, please email them to me at email@example.com
Thank you for your support!
CSPA Group Circulars
- HQ Group Circular 811 Dec 2014
- HQ Group Circular 810 Dec 2014
- HQ Group Circular 805 July 2014
- CSPA Briefing Transparency Of Lobbying Non-Party Campaigning And Trade Union Adminstration Bill – Update
- HQ Group Circular 757 Oct 2011
- HQ Group Circular 758 Nov 2011
Public Service Pensioners’ Council
- PSPC Secs Campaigns Update December 2017
- PSPC second letter to Liz Truss on inflation index December 2017
- PSPC Campaigns Update – August 2016
- PSPC Campaigns Update – May 2016
- PSPC Campaigns Update – October 2015
- PSPC Campaigns Update – January 2015
- PSPC – Forces Pension Society success on suspension of pension on remarriage or cohabitation – November 2014
- PSPC Campaigns Update – October 2014
- PSPC Manifesto for Public Service Pensioners 2015
- Group Letter to Lord Freud – November 2013
- Group Letter to MS – November 2013
- PSPC Campaigns Update – November 2013
- PSPC Campaigns Update – September 2013
- Age-related Personal Tax Allowances Briefing – September 2013
- Age-related personal tax allowances lobbying letter – September 2013
- Inflation Latest Figures
- Key Points Included in the Autumn Statement 3 December 2014
- Inflation Latest Figures
- Later Life Ambitions General Election 2015
- Tax Pension and Benefit Changes 2014-2015
- Number 92 – Nov 2012 – Pension increases for 2013
- Number 84 – Feb 2012
- Number 77 – Nov 2011
- Number 72 – Jul 2011
- Number 71 – Jun 2011
- Number 70 – Jun 2011
- Number 69 – Apr 2011
- Number 68 – Apr 2011
- Number 67 – Mar 2011
- Number 66 – Mar 2011
- Number 65 – Jan 2011
- Number 64 – Nov 2010
- Number 63 – Nov 2010
- Number 62 – Oct 2010
- Number 61 – Oct 2010
- Letter to Danny Alexander MP on Indexation of Public Service Pensions