PENSIONERS will march through Blackpool today to launch their convention in the resort.
More than 1,000 delegates from around the UK will converge on the Winter Gardens for the annual Pensioners Parliament.
Issues ranging from fuel poverty to rural isolation will be on the agenda at the three-day event which is due to be addressed by Care Minister Paul Burstow on Wednesday.
Marchers carrying banners and led by a jazz band will set off through the town centre to the Winter Gardens at 1pm.
National Pensioners Convention (NPC) general secretary Dot Gibson said: “The UK is not an easy place for many older people to be right now.
“Despite what some have argued, pensioners have not escaped the government’s austerity programme.
“Cuts to the winter fuel allowance, rationing of care services, changes to the way pensions are uprated every year, the freeze on tax allowances and the rising costs of living are all beginning to take their toll.
“But pensioners are not selfish and we recognise younger people are also having a difficult time. Suggestions there is a kind of generational divide are therefore totally untrue.
“The real division is between those at the top of society and the rest of us who are having to pay for their mistakes.
“It will be important that we send a clear message to government this week that we have campaigned hard over many years to secure benefits such as the free bus pass – and we will not give them away lightly.
“They are essential in enabling older people to maintain independence and social inclusion which allows them to continue contributing to their local communities.
“One of the major concerns that all older people now have is how they will be cared for when they can no longer look after themselves.
“How much will it cost, how good will the service be and will they be treated with dignity and respect?
“These are all issues which will be put to the care minister when he visits and I hope he will be able to announce when the Government is going to finally take some much needed action on this issue.”