Thursday, October 13, 2005

Gibraltar Pensioners urge Caruana to heed their grievances

The Gibraltar Pensioners’ Association has urged Peter Caruana, the Chief Minister, to meet in person with its representatives and discuss a number of issues of concern to pensioners.

The GPA says that while other government ministers are very responsive, the Chief Minister has not yet found time for a face to face meeting.

“We do understand his busy schedule but he can surely find a slot to meet us in the same way as he meets other associations,” the GPA said in a statement.

“It must be clearly understood that most of our members have given a lifetime to the service of Gibraltar and deserve respect and consideration for their aims and needs."

Asked about the association’s comments, a government spokesman said that GPA representatives had met with officials in the Chief Minister’s office and had interacted with various ministers responsible for the issues they had raised. The GPA had also received a statement from No 6 on those issues.

The pensioners’ group said it was getting stronger and that more pensioners were joining, adding that it plans to restart its recruiting campaign and engage in meetings with other associations and trade unions in order to join forces.

In its statement, the GPS also drew attention to the concerns over widows’ pensions.

“We are very disturbed and worried about those pensioners, mainly widows, who have no occupational pension as in most cases the pension ceases when the holder dies,” the GPA statement said.

“A Gibraltar resident with no occupational pension is entitled to just £350 a month.

Is the CM satisfied that a person can make ends meet with this amount?

Our main representation in this respect has been the reintroduction of the Widows & Orphans Pension Scheme or some similar scheme so that a widow will continue to be entitled to at least part of the pension being paid to the husband.

It should be noted that in Spain a system does exist for widows to be paid part of the pension to which the husband was being paid whilst alive (wife to widowed husband also applies). It is our view that this must and should be given top priority by Government.

Other areas that we have taken up, unsuccessfully up to now, but we shall continue to make representations include, Monthly payments of the Household Cost Allowance, Pensioners tax free debentures and free bus service for senior citizens.

We do thank Government for having increased senior citizens tax Allowance; having increased personal tax allowances by 3%; the increase of the disability allowance; free medical tests for the renewal of driving licences for persons over 70 (this is not yet being applied by GHA) and the increase by 3% of the Elderly Pensioners Guarantee Income from £95.40 to £98.26 per week for a single person and from £127.20 to £131 per week for a married couple. How and to whom this applies needs to be discussed with the pertinent authority as and when we are given a date for a meeting."

The GPA continues to meet every Tuesday between 11am and 12 noon at the John Mackintosh Hall. Any pensioner is invited to attend these meetings to discuss any problem they may have, clarify any point or to request the committee to make representations on their behalf.

“Members can rest assured that matters will be taken up with the pertinent authority,” the statement added.

“Lack of replies from the authorities will not deter this Association from carrying out our aims.”

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