ON THIS DAY    11 November      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1954: Pensioners demand more money

Thousands of elderly people have taken part in a rally in London calling for an increase in their pensions.

The National Federation of Old Age Pensions Associations has been leading a campaign for an immediate 17s 6d rise in pensions to take a single person's allowance to 2 10s per week.

The Conservative Government promised in July to restore pensions to at least the equivalent of their 1946 value, as laid out in the National Insurance Act of that year.

But there is disagreement about how much pensions would need to go up to achieve the same post-war purchasing power. It is thought the government is looking at a figure of about 4s 9d for a single person, 6s 3d for a couple.

"I hope it spoiled his breakfast"

Pensions campaigner Mr Williams

The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, Osbert Peake, has promised to announce the government's final decision before Christmas. But legislation will need to be altered and this could delay the increased payments for two to three months.

Pensioners have been bussed into the capital from all over the country for today's rally at Central Hall in Westminster.

The Federation has written to Mr Peake challenging him to explain why he is stalling over the increase.

The contents of the letter were read out to the crowd by Mr A Williams, a pensioner from Cardiff, who ended by saying: "I hope it spoiled his breakfast."

Another speaker read out a prepared statement: "This rally of 4,000 old age pensioners assembled in the Central Hall Westminster on Thursday November 11th register their disgust at the delaying tactics of the Government in their refusal to grant a living pension to the old folk.

"Slight relief will not satisfy this federation or its members. We demand an immediate increase from 32s 6d to 2 10s per week for all old age pensioners."

When the pensioners were asked to approve the resolution calling for the extra money, there was a unanimous roar of "aye".

There was a similar roar of approval for the proposal to provide pensions from taxation rather than national insurance to "ensure the whole nation makes a contribution".

Both resolutions are to be sent to all the relevant ministers including the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, the Chancellor Rab Butler and Pensions Minister Mr Peake.

In Context
A parliamentary debate on pensions held later the same week was won by the Government on the promise of a "good plan" for pensioners.

There were no details given, but Mr Peake promised to unveil the proposals "at the earliest possible moment."

The National Insurance bill 1955 eventually proposed increasing single benefits to 40s (2) and a couple's allowance to 65s (3 5s).

Various changes have been made to the state pension since this time. The National Insurance Act 1959 introduced earnings-related pensions and contributions. The scheme became effective in 1961.

In 1975 the Social Security Pensions Act gave people the opportunity to opt out of the state pension and therefore contribute less national insurance where they had an adequate private pension.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes was made under Margaret Thatcher who cut the link between pensions and earnings in 1980.

Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |