Tory leader David Cameron has laid down the gauntlet to Labour and the LibDems in an aggressive bid for the votes of millions of over 50s during the first of a series of unique live TV “webchats” organized by the Saga group - coming up are Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg. He made an exclusive pledge to the Saga Generation during the webchat, which attracted many thousands of questions both online and from the live audience.
He promised to:
- Increase the value of the basic state pension for all pensioners - but going straight to a flat-rate pension of £130 without means testing, as requested by many in the Saga Generation, "would be very expensive and the money isn't there. I can't say yes to that though I would like to float people away from mean testing by linking the pensions with earnings. Let's see over time if we can't do better than that. "
- Freeze council tax for the next two years, in partnership with councils.
- End the rules that make purchasing an annuity compulsory "with adequate safeguards".
- Help people protect their home rather than have to sell it to pay for care.
- Increase spending on the NHS.
- Get more police out on the beat fighting crime.
- Protect the Winter Fuel Payment, free bus pass, free TV licence and pension credit.
Like the other two parties, he said he would restore the link between pensions and earnings – but gave no time frame for that. He “could not promise” to scrap basic-rate tax on savings interest for over-65s – the subject of many questions sent in to Saga.
Other points he made were:
The question now is what pledges Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg will make to improve the lives of the Saga Generation. Watch www.saga.co.uk for news of the timings of the next live question sessions with the leaders of the main parties.
The webchats organized by the Saga group are part of a unique drive to inform their millions of customers on the detail of the policies relevant to over-50s – and to inform in turn the three main parties of their customers' main concerns. It is the first time Saga’s millions of customers have used their demographic muscle to engage as a political force.
Paul Green, Head of Communications, Saga, commented: “The turnout for Friday’s show – both in terms of viewers and questions submitted – was phenomenal. Thousands people sent questions in for David Cameron, which covered everything from the raid on pension funds and carers’ issues to his views on euthanasia.
“With the Saga Generation the age group most likely to vote in the forthcoming election, it is important that they really hear first hand what the leaders have to say about the burning issues of the day. And it’s obviously vital that the political parties engage with the over 50s on the run up to the election.”
The final two webchats – with Labour leader Gordon Brown and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg – will be announced shortly.
To view the hour-long Q&A session in full, please visit www.studiotalk.tv.
Please send in your comments on his views to firstname.lastname@example.org marked “Cameron feedback”.
And there is still time to send in your pre-election questions to Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg: please email the same address with the subject of your question in the “subject” field.
For more information please contact the Saga Press Office on 01303 771529