Turning Interest Into Action
The NPC’s main objective is to promote the welfare and interests of all pensioners, as a way of securing dignity, respect and financial security in retirement. The NPC organises rallies and lobbies of MPs, leads delegations to parliament and makes submissions to government on policies affecting older people. The Convention also stages an annual three-day Annual Convention, previously in Blackpool, now in Southport, where up to 1000 representatives discuss issues of concern and share ideas in an atmosphere of genuine friendship.
In our relatively short history, through our campaigning and influencing work we have achieved some significant benefits for older people:
Restoration of the link with earnings – 30 years after the Thatcher government took it away
Introduction of the free concessionary bus pass from the Labour government when John Prescott was Transport Minister
Introduction of the winter fuel allowance when Gordon Brown was Chancellor
A change in the rules so that someone in hospital no longer has their state pension stopped until after 52 weeks, rather than the original 6 weeks
Led the successful campaign to reduce VAT on fuel to 5%
It should also be recognised that simply by having the NPC, it makes it more difficult for governments to propose and introduce detrimental changes.
The real strength of the organisation however comes from the work of our many affiliated groups, who are active in their local areas and regions promoting the NPC’s campaigns. This makes the Convention unique, as the only national campaign group in the country which is run by pensioners for pensioners.
With more support the NPC will be able to continue to develop its organisation and strengthen its influence as the campaigning voice of both today’s and tomorrow’s pensioners.
A copy of the latest version of the NPC's constitution can be downloaded here.
When Jack Jones retired as general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union in March 1978 he was well aware that there was no single organisation which represented and campaigned on behalf of pensioners. Although some trade unions had retired members’ sections, and there were various pensioner organisations and charities in existence, there was no umbrella body that could co-ordinate and lead the campaign.
With the initial support of the TUC, in 1979 he worked on a blueprint for an umbrella organisation, made up of affiliated groups, and in keeping with this idea he came up with the Chartist inspired name, the National Pensioners Convention.
On the 14 June 1979 the first National Pensioners’ Convention was held at the Central Hall, Westminster; attended by 2500 older people, who discussed and then adopted a Declaration of Intent. It stated: “This Convention declares that every pensioner has the right to choice, dignity, independence and security as an integral and valued member of society”.
Over the years, the NPC acquired premises and staff, and grew in size to cover around 1.5 million older people in over 1000 different organisations across the UK.
This account is taken from archives at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick and from information supplied by Roland Worth (first secretary of the NPC), Cyril Marshall (NPC treasurer Dec 1991 to Dec 2008) and Edith Pocock MBE (Norfolk and Norwich Pensioners Association).