Written by YGTV Team on 13 May 2021.
The Community Care Action Group says it has decided to “escalate” its campaign after what it describes as 15 months “without positive changes.” The group is calling on the Government and Community Care Ltd to revert to the original Community Care payment structure as it existed before February 2020.
A spokesperson said:
“At a well-attended meeting on Monday 10th May, a reorganised committee, were unanimously charged by their members to escalate action for public support and public protest.
“Over the last 15 months, the 184 strong group’s committee members, entered into dialogue with community care ltd and the Chief Minister, each on several occasions. The group have respected the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and the impact that this has had on our community.
“They have tried to resolve this issue amicably through dialogue, however many of the members believe that they are not getting anywhere fast enough, due to the Government and Community Care Ltd., wilfully delaying the process to resolve it and not making any appropriate proposals.
“This matter needs to be addressed immediately, as members are suffering financial hardship. The long-awaited command paper proposed by the Chief Minister is likely to address the inequality of state retirement age due to one’s gender and not resolve the Community Care matter.
“The group’s members intend to consult with various bodies and gather public support, with the intention of making public protests and petitioning the Government to re-instate Community Care as it was, prior to the changes made on 17th February 2020; until a viable and fair alternative can be found.
“They also intend to call for a public enquiry, as this unjust change affects every family in Gibraltar, as the majority of males attaining the age of 60 have been suddenly deprived of this source of (an alternative to a pension) income, without any consultation, nor due notice.
“It is an expected norm that any modern parliamentary democracy will set out a consultative process, leading to a parliamentary bill with a timetable, that would then allow the persons affected by such an important proposed change, to allow our citizens a long enough period of time to make alternative financial plans.
“In the UK, in February 2011 a detailed timetable for change was announced in the pensions bill 2011. Womens’ state pensionable age would rise from 60 to 65 by November 2018, that gave women seven years ten months of notice to prepare.
“In Gibraltar however, overnight and unjust changes to the Community Care allowance system (wholly funded by Government) caused the majority of formerly eligible claimants to no longer receive this allowance. Many of their members (through no fault of their own) were relying on this income till reaching the male state retirement age of 65.
“The Community Care allowance was introduced in 1989 by the GSLP and continued by successive governments.
It is generally believed that the objective was to create a five-year alternative to commencing the state pension, for males at age 60. The GSLP manifesto of 1988, called it ‘a new scheme to introduce a social wage before age 65 for males’. Since then, the poorly increased monthly state pension has been compensated by the Community Care allowance for males aged 60-65; after that, the household cost allowance compensates for the poor state pension for males and females after age 65.
“The money set aside by Government to pay for the community care allowances and household cost allowances, should be ring-fenced exclusively for retirement (as is done with government occupational pensions) and not diverted via a limited company ‘charity’. We all know why it was done that way in the past.
“The members of the Community Care Action Group only want is rightfully theirs, what they were expecting to receive, (and had included in their financial plans for retirement) as has been the custom and practice for the last 33 years, through the Community Care charity. It is reasonable for the retirees to expect to receive what their peers have been and are continuing to receive to this day.
“In the meantime, until a well thought out and debated bill becomes enacted in Parliament, they need the Community Care allowance as was prior to 17th February 2020, to be reinstated forthwith and arrears paid to their members.”