Pensioners fear impact of cuts

Image caption,
The impact on the winter fuel grant is one area of concern for pensioners

Radio Ulster reporter Will Leitch has been finding out what ordinary people across Northern Ireland are thinking as they contemplate the cuts coming in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

In his second report, he has been meeting pensioners and public sector workers.

Paula Trimble scatters a few toys on the floor around her baby grandson in her Carnmoney home and then turns to explain why she wants to go to work.

Many in her position might have given up.

In her early 60s, Paula recently lost her job as a medical PA, but she is not content simply to stay at home and help look after her grandchildren during the day.

"This is an economic climate in which you don't want to be out of a job if you can keep it." she points out.

Chatting to her friends, she has come across many with a gloomy outlook.

"It is going to be hard. And there are going to be be cuts. And we're just hoping against hope that David Cameron will keep his word, and give a little leeway for Northern Ireland."

For Ivan Baxter, a retired civil servant from east Belfast, the talk of cuts reminds him of the Thatcher era.

But he knows that this time it is rather different. Ivan works with the Civil Service Pensioners' Alliance.

He instantly suggests three things which worry his colleagues and friends: the level of the state pension, the winter fuel grant, and free travel for pensioners.

"If you don't put money into helping people live in their own homes, they will end up in care homes or nursing homes, and this will cost even more." he explains.

"Pensioners want to continue contributing to the community. There's very few of them want to sit back and do nothing."

Ciaran McGeogh still works as a civil servant in the centre of Belfast, and he nips out to meet me during his lunch break.

"People don't know what's coming to their door next and the main fear is with their employment." he explains.

"A lot of people, they see that it is just cuts for cuts sake."

'Battle weary'

Cara Murchan is a health care worker with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

"I and my colleagues are nearly battle weary when we hear of cuts," she says, referring to the efficiences and budget restraints already imposed on the Health Service.

"The knock-on effects are endless. So when you're left as the only breadwinner in the house, yes, it's a very scary time."

For this series I have travelled around Northern Ireland meeting ordinary people in offices, studios, in their homes, on park benches.

Without exception everyone has been concerned about what the Comprehensive Spending Review will bring. Some are convinced the cuts are unnecessary.

All are expecting tough times ahead.

You can hear the hope and fears of ordinary people thinking about the Comprehensive Spending Review every evening this week on Evening Extra.

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