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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Joining the pensioners' protest
Sylvia Hardy says her quality of life has become worse
Pensioner Sylvia Hardy says her quality of life has worsened

As hundreds of pensioners descend on Westminster to protest about their incomes, Devon resident Silvia Hardy told BBC News why she is joining them.

About four years ago, I had to give up my car. I had to take an equity release out on my home and my quality of life is being affected.

We cannot go on with our incomes going further behind inflation. Soon, we will not have any quality of life at all and we think that very unfair.

I'm reasonably fit so I would like to be able to lead an active life. I would like to be able to go out with my friends for lunch sometimes, go to the theatre occasionally, or have a holiday.

I had a week's holiday earlier this year and that may be the last one, the way thing's are going.

Council tax war

If I had to sit at home and twiddle my thumbs all day because I couldn't afford to go out and enjoy myself, I honestly wouldn't want to go on living. It's as serious as that.

The council tax in Devon has gone up this year by 18.5%. And most of our pensions have only gone up 1.7%. That's a big difference.

A great many of us in Devon and Cornwall have decided that we're only going to pay an increase which amounts to the increase in pension that we've had this year.

Up until now the government has completely ignored us, thinking that we're easy meat
Sylia Hardy

We're falling behind with our payments of council tax and some of us have already had our final demands and been threatened with court summons.

My friends are all for my stand and they're very much behind me. A lot of them, for various reasons, can't be involved in the campaign themselves.

But they're very pleased that there are people who are prepared to launch this campaign for them, as well as for us.

We're going up to London today and we're going to speak to our MPs because we feel that we have to get the message across that something has to change.

Up until now the government has completely ignored us, thinking that we're easy meat and that we're not going to stand up for what, we think, are our rights.

They're now beginning to realise that times have changed.

They can't ignore us and they have to remember that the election isn't that far off and by that time, nearly 25% of the electorate will be our age.

They should beware.



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