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Letter to the Editor

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

The NPC has responded to Polly Toynbee’s column in The Guardian on 14th February.

For the attention of Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of The Guardian

Re: ‘My generation is sucking Britain’s young people dry,’ by Polly Toynbee..

Dear Ms Viner,

As General Secretary of the National Pensioners’ Convention, the UK’s largest campaigning organisation run for and by older people, I am deeply concerned and disappointed by Polly Toynbee’s column in The Guardian on 14th February (‘My generation is sucking Britain’s young people dry’ -

Many NPC members have expressed alarm at her article which is not just ageist and inflammatory, it quotes figures that distort the true predicament facing the UK’s 11million over 65s.

The Guardian cannot just print an article like this and think no harm has been done to truth, balance and the perception of older people. It continues the false narrative that sets young against old and plays into the hands of those who would like to further reduce the UK’s poor state pension and later life care services. It does not reflect the three million older people living in poverty, or the many more currently having to choose between eating and heating their homes.

The statistic that there are ‘3 million pensioners in millionaire households’ also misleads, because it includes couples (as opposed to individuals) who share ownership of capital such as their homes, which they may well have to sell to pay for their care.

Older people cannot be the scapegoats for the cut in NHS funding, or expensive university fees, or rocketing house prices, or the undermining of the care sector. This is purely down to 12 years of poor government decision-making.

Today’s young are tomorrow’s pensioners. We worry about the crisis they currently face - they are our family for heaven’s sake. When we were their age, we paid our taxes and National Insurance thinking we were investing in all our futures. Sadly, we were misled.

Perhaps your columnist should spend more time around the millions struggling to make ends meet - because that is the reality for the majority today.

Yours sincerely,

Jan Shortt

General Secretary

National Pensioners Convention



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