Author Archives: mervynkohler

Calling for action on winter deaths and illnesses

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Photo credit: zenjazzygeek (Flickr Creative Commons)

 

A NICE Guideline is not mandatory, but it is pretty firm – it uses the language ‘should’. So its Guideline on how Health and Wellbeing Boards – and indeed health professionals across the board – should deal with excess winter deaths and the issue of winter morbidity is very welcome, and offers encouragement to campaigners who have been looking for a greater focus on this age-old problem.

NICE starts unambiguously by pinning the problem to cold and hard-to-heat homes. And although the level of public concern rises when there is a spell of really cold weather, NICE points out that the health consequences begin to appear in ‘normal’ cold weather – when temperatures fall to six or five degrees (and that happens much more frequently that touching zero or below). Continue reading

The ongoing pain of excess winter deaths

An older woman in bed

The figures for ‘excess winter deaths’ for last winter (2013-14) are mercifully down on the truly awful figures for the previous year. But this is no cause for celebration. It is a grim reminder that the debate about energy is not just about prices, but is also about lives, illness and misery.

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The long-promised fuel poverty strategy for England

A woman living in fuel povertyAt last, the Government has produced the fuel poverty strategy paper it promised in December. It falls rather short of what we hoped for.

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The Budget 2014 – a first take

Mervyn Kohler, Age UK’s External Affairs Adviser, looks at what the Budget means for savers, the social care system and our hopelessly energy-inefficient housing stock.

George OsborneIn its tone and delivery, the Budget speech sounded good news for pensioners, and there is much to applaud in the Government’s proposals.  But before getting carried away with enthusiasm it’s important to take a cool look at what we mean by ‘pensioners’.

Retired people with savings who have seen desperately poor returns on their investments will welcome the National Savings Pensioner Bond from next January, the simplification of ISAs and their raised savings limits.

Older people coming up to retirement can appreciate the proposed flexibilities around their pension savings, and the increases in the lump sums they are allowed to draw. But they must be careful to strike a balance between the resources they use to spend now, rather than fund their (hopefully) long lives at an appropriate level. Unfortunately these savings can only be used once! Continue reading