Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Century of Caring for People in Old Age; It Was 100 Years Ago Today That State Pensions Were Introduced in Britain. LIZ LAMB Looks Back at Its History on Tyneside and Speaks to Two Pensioners about Their Lives

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Century of Caring for People in Old Age; It Was 100 Years Ago Today That State Pensions Were Introduced in Britain. LIZ LAMB Looks Back at Its History on Tyneside and Speaks to Two Pensioners about Their Lives

Article excerpt

Byline: LIZ LAMB

IT'S something that is commonplace in Britain today. When you retire from work you receive a state pension to help towards paying household bills, buying food and other living costs.

Thousands of pensioners rely solely on the money to survive, and numbers are set to rise.

For the first time ever there were more pensioners than children in the UK in 2007, and it's predicted that in 2063 we will see pensioners living to 120.

Nearly half a million people in the North East now claim state pension - including 100,000 in County Durham, 151,000 on Tyneside, 52,000 on Wearside and 99,000 on Teesside.

This is a stark contrast to a century ago. Back in January 1909, around 2,000 people in Newcastle qualified to claim.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary in the North East, staff from the pension service attended a celebration at Beamish Museum to mark the beginning of government help to ensure older people were looked after during retirement.

'Today people's quality of life is dramatically better than in 1908, and the state pension continues to be the foundation of support for people when they retire," says Mike O'Brien, Pensions Minister.

Back in 1909 older people could expect to receive five shillings a week pension - an amount of 25p in today's terms. Today a basic state pension for a single person is pounds 90.70.

Ann Morton, principal record specialist, The National Archives, says. 'The Pension Act was a significant step for poor people over 70. The government acknowledged its central role in helping pensioners in poverty. It also showed understanding of the plight of older people."

Long history

TYNESIDE has long held links with pensions. The Department for Works and Pensions used to be based at the civil offices in Longbenton.

Though some staff still remain there, it is now largely used by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. The national head office of the Pension Service is at Tyne View Park, close to the main Longbenton site. …

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