A FEW months ago I had the pleasure of meeting with our fantastic local Age UK team to discuss some of the enormous pressures facing our local older population.

It was clear that nine years of austerity implementation has caught up and is hitting them hard.

Since 2010, local authority bus budgets have been cut by 45 per cent.

Over the last few years we’ve seen the steady decline in bus routes locally including the closure of the 594 route a few weeks ago as well as the reduction in services on the 593, 681, V3 and V4.

I know how much our older population rely on these services to access appointments, do their shopping, visit friends and family and generally feel part of their community.

Bus routes are a lifeline to so many in our community and it is therefore shameful that funding for some bus routes have been pulled by the Government.

Recently, I also raised the scandal of the TV licence fee.

The Conservatives have broken their manifesto promise and asked the BBC to find the money for TV licences for the over 75s, funding that they previously provided.

This will mean that locally 4,000 households in the constituency will face the loss of their TV access.

As this is sometimes the main source of companionship for many elderly residents I find it outrageous that the Tories have been this ruthless.

Labour promises to fund TV licenses for everyone aged over 75.

I have also been hearing from many residents concerned about their social care in older age.

Everyone should feel safe in the knowledge that they will be cared for with dignity in later life but since the 2017 election we have not seen the promised proposals from the Government leaving many concerned and anxious about their future.

Many residents, especially those with dementia, are unfairly punished when it comes to care costs and this injustice cannot be allowed to carry on. While the local council are coming up with some fantastic and innovative approaches like dementia cafés, lunches and friendship groups, there’s no escaping the fact that across the country £4.6 billion has been lost from social care budgets.

We urgently need the funding, training and staff to provide world class social care. That’s why I support steps to introduce a National Care Service to safeguard everyone’s care in older age.

Finally, I am listening to the various pension concerns residents have. From our fantastic and brave WASPI women who deserve fair transitional arrangements to our mineworkers who deserve a review of their fund, we’ve seen so many in the constituency let down by the system.

We should be guaranteeing the pensions triple-lock, enshrining the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes as universal benefits and funding accessibility and social schemes to show our older population the dignity, respect and gratitude they deserve after giving so much to our local community.

The way they have been treated over the last few years, shouldering a heavy burden of cuts and austerity, is quite frankly shameful.

It’s time we right this injustice.

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