Category Archives: Campaigning

Older, not colder

An older woman reading her fuel bill

The weather may still be relatively mild, but there’s no doubt that winter is just around the corner and for many older people, this is a huge worry. Age UK’s new research has found that 1 in 3 older people are concerned about keeping their home adequately warm this coming winter, and 70 per cent of older people are concerned about the high cost of energy.

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Ending poverty and inequality in later life

Before getting help from Age UK County Durham, Lily, 88, was having to make painful sacrifices every day due to her limited income. This meant going to bed early just to stay warm because she couldn't afford to put the heating on.

Before getting help from Age UK County Durham, Lily, 88, was having to make painful sacrifices every day due to her limited income. This meant going to bed early just to stay warm because she couldn’t afford to put the heating on.

Last week we launched our End Pensioner Poverty campaign. Joanne Sawyer, Equality and Human Rights Policy Adviser, looks at how the issue of pensioner poverty relates to human rights in the UK.

Today in the UK, 1.6 million older people live in poverty, of whom 900,000 are living in severe poverty.  Whilst the number of pensioners living on a low income has fallen considerably in recent years, progress has now stalled and pensioner poverty levels have stayed the same.  In practice, this means constant financial worries for some older people and struggles to afford basic essentials like fresh food, warm clothes, and heating during the winter.

This unequal situation persists despite the right of everyone in the UK to an adequate standard of living which includes “adequate food, clothing and housing”, whatever their age and whatever their background.[1]  The General Assembly of the UN has stated that “older persons should have access to adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community support and self-help”.[2] Continue reading

Campaign win: Government moves to protect older people’s human rights

Last week the Care Bill received royal assent. Let’s mark the occasion by reflecting on the successes that we have achieved, the changes to the social care system and the measures that will help older people with care needs to live with dignity.

One of the changes that is particularly positive was only agreed in the very final
stages of the parliamentary process. During the exciting-sounding ‘ping pong’ where the two Houses are required to agree each other’s changes to the Bill, a
Government amendment was accepted that closes a loophole in human rights law; a change that Age UK has campaigned for a number of years.

Currently, whether you are covered by the Human Rights Act when receiving care services depends on what that service is, how it is funded and who arranges it. Publicly funded or arranged residential care is covered. Privately arranged
and funded residential care is not. That means two people living in the same care home could have different levels of protection under the law. When it comes to domiciliary care, there is no direct coverage at all. This means that human rights abuses could be taking place with no option for redress. Continue reading

The Care Act

This blog was contributed by Angela Kitching, joint Head of Public Affairs, at Age UK

The Care Bill’s conclusion in May brought to an end years of reports, commissions and draft Bills intended to turn a patchwork system of social care legislation into an adequate legal underpinning.

As a result of these changes there should be real improvement, such as:

But this is not the end of the journey for social care – it must be the foundation on which improvements to the system as a whole are laid.

Critically, funding for social care now falls so far short of what is needed to meet demand that many of the provisions in the Care Act, such as support for carers or a system aiming to focus on aspiration rather than need.

These necessary aims cannot be realised unless more money is made available. Coupled with increasing numbers of older people and younger disabled adults needing care, politicians of all stripes must now take steps to adequately fund social care services.

In the long term without this investment, we will not save money, we will merely shunt costs onto emergency care services, more expensive types of residential care and onto overstretched family carers who may be forced to leave their jobs, possibly becoming ill themselves, in order to manage their family’s care crisis. Continue reading