By Ryan Harrison
A FAILURE to plan for the future and an increase in the cost of living has been blamed for many British pensioners in Majorca living on the breadline.
Speaking yesterday Philip Bushill-Mathews, Euro MP and Conservative spokesman for employment and social affairs, said that the fact that some British pensioners on the island can't afford to live is terrible, but thinking of the future is vital. “What people have to understand when they go abroad is the risks involved.” “When times are good and the pound is strong it's great. But when it gets tough there's no free lunch,” he added. His comments come only days after Age Concern in Majorca revealed that some pensioners here are forced to “scratch for a living”, as a result of the Euro and the minimum British pension. Mr. Bushill-Mathews said what is needed is a safety net for these people who have hit rock bottom. “People like Kate Mentink for Calvia council and Age Concern have done great work to alleviate the problem, but there is still more to do,” he said. He also called for an overall rise in the British state pension, but said that often it is not the government's fault. “Some people have not formally emigrated so haven't highlighted this to the government.” The cost of living has gone up by 3.3 percent over the past 12 months, with regional inflation running at twice that of the UK. Pensioners on the island are therefore finding it impossible to survive. Bushill-Mathews, recently re-elected as Euro MP for the West Midlands, said: “One of the big problems is the Euro. This has forced the cost of living up dramatically, particularly for pensioners.” He added: “Nothing can be done on an EU level, it has to be by each individual member state.” Asked whether the proposed EU Constitution would solve matters, he said: “No, it would not help. Pensions, taxes and social security are all issues for member states.” “The constitution would only allow for better coordinaton between countries.” Mr. Bushill-Mathews said that some Britons who emigrated to Majorca 20 or 30 years ago may not have been aware of the situation when they reached retirement. “It is the job of the Government and the EU to make people aware of the issues now,” he said.

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