Fuel poverty – the next steps?

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The Coalition Government devolved the delivery of fuel poverty policy to the energy supply industry by introducing the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to the household names in the energy supply business. Via their licence to supply, they are obligated to reduce domestic carbon emissions (ie help households to use less energy) by the most cost-effective method.

Scaling back of the Energy Company Obligation 

This turned out to be a programme which added about 5% to gas bills and about 11% to electricity bills  yielding some £1bn per year for remedial fuel poverty work. As global energy prices rose, these ‘extras’ on gas and electricity bills came into the firing line, and the Government scaled back ECO in 2013. With no tax-funded programme in play, and what is effectively a cap on what it obliges energy companies to do, the outlook for those in fuel poverty is bleak.  Continue reading

General Election Series: A rallying call for a great place to grow older

Older campaignersThis week’s blog from our General Election Series focuses on Age UK’s General Election Rally, which was held on Tuesday 24 March 2015.

Yesterday, Age UK held a General Election Rally event to give older people the opportunity hear from representatives from the five main political parties about their policies to make the UK ‘a great place to grow older’.

Although the media coverage over the last 24 hours has focused predominantly on the audience’s heckling of the Prime Minister, our first speaker, there was much more to the day. Continue reading

General Election Series: Safe at home

Photo credit: Diana Parkhouse (Flickr Creative Commons)

Photo credit: Diana Parkhouse (Flickr Creative Commons)

This week’s blog from our General Election Series highlights why everyone in later life should feel safe, comfortable and secure at home. 

A decent and comfortable home environment is important to all of us, but it’s especially important as we age. Older people can be particularly vulnerable to the effects of the cold, damp and hazardous housing conditions. It’s estimated that poor housing costs the NHS £600m every year, with a total cost to society of up to £1.5bn. That’s why Age UK is calling for a comprehensive joined up programme to improve home conditions for older people and new affordable ‘lifetime’ homes built to higher accessibility and energy efficiency standards.

Helping people make adaptations

Many older people need help and advice to repair, adapt or modify their homes. Home improvement agencies and handy person services continue to play a key role in offering practical assistance and can identify the resources needed to pay for work. Yet in recent years these services have been cut back, despite widespread cross party agreement on the essential role they play. Continue reading

The Budget 2015 – Age UK reaction

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has this week announced the Budget for 2015/16. Mike Smith, joint Head of Public Affairs at Age UK, looks at how the Government’s proposals will affect older people. 

Yesterday afternoon the Chancellor, George Osborne, stepped up to the despatch box to deliver the final Budget of this Government. This was always going to be a highly political Budget, with one eye firmly focussed on the election which is now just seven 7 weeks away. At Age UK we were looking out for announcements most likely to impact on older people up and down the country, as well as what was ‘missing’ – proposals we have been calling for which may not have been included.

So what was the main announcement in the Budget affecting older people? The most significant budget announcements for many older people are the pensions reforms for those who have already taken out an annuity. This follows the radical reforms to private pensions set out in last year’s Budget. This time around, the Chancellor announced that from April next year pensioners who already have a pension annuity will be able to sell their annuity income to a third party. This is likely to be welcomed by many older people who have taken out an annuity and feel they may have missed out on the reforms which come into effect in April.  Continue reading