Senior Citizens

Last week I joined the Senior Persons' Council of Horsham at one of their regular meetings.

This was established by Horsham District Council in 2006 and supports the over 50s in the District's villages and towns.  It's been a great success, enabling local people to help shape their public services for the better. 

I believe it's so important to treat the elderly with the respect and dignity that they deserve.

And I was delighted to listen to the views put to me by the Council's Chairman, Barry Mursell, and the rest of the group.

One member of the Council raised the effect of long-term low interest rates on savers, which has affected those who behaved prudently by putting money aside - a point that the Governor of the Bank of England made this week.

I raised another issue which, like low interest rates, is positive overall, but can have different implications for the elderly.  The internet is now a central part of the majority of people's lives in the UK, but 6 million people over 65 have never used it before - so we must think about that when promoting services. 

I also set out what the Coalition is doing to support the elderly, and I think there are three key advances.

First, we will restore the earnings link for the basic state pension from April this year, with a triple lock guaranteeing that pensions are raised by the higher of earnings, prices or 2.5 per cent.   

Second, we are protecting spending NHS spending and reforming the service.  This will benefit everyone, but especially the elderly who rely more on care.

Finally, here in West Sussex we have been pioneers of giving people money directly for care, giving them control and choice.  I think this is the right principle.

And I know that the Council will make sure that we live up to our promises to the elderly - and we must do so.

Christopher N Howarth