Tag Archives: Income

Let’s Talk Money

Welfare reform and the benefits system have been high on the news agenda recently, but an often overlooked issue is the persistent problem of pensioner poverty. With 1.7m pensioners (14%) currently living in poverty, and £5.5bn pounds of benefits left unclaimed by pensioners, Age UK has re-launched its Let’s Talk Money campaign.

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 13.42.31A significant amount of research highlights that there are many reasons why older people aren’t claiming the benefits that they are entitled to – from a perception that the application process is too complicated, to the belief that they don’t qualify.

With so many people slipping through the net, Age UK aims to challenge the myths around eligibility, and encourage older people to claim the benefits that they are entitled to so that they can make the most of later life.

The campaign continues to focus on encouraging older people to claim the benefits they are entitled to, such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Attendance Allowance.

People on low incomes can use the extra money that benefits provide to pay for utility bills, broken appliances or some much needed help around the house – removing financial stress that is a burden for so many. Continue reading

UK life reimagined

A demographic revolution is under way, with more of us living longer than ever before. Fifty years ago there were nearly 20 million people in the world age 80 or over; now that figure stands at about 105 million, and it’s rising fast. Many – though not enough – of our older population are in good health and will retire with a decent income and a strong social network, and many have much to offer society.

The timing of the debate around the aging population in the UK is then 440px_older_carers_handsperhaps unfortunate, held as it is against a back­drop of a beleaguered economy. Since the Coalition Government came to power we have seen cuts to government services and working-age benefits and a further £10 billion reduction in welfare to come. Against this context there is a perception that older people have fared better than most other groups but media commentary suggesting that today’s older people belong to “the lucky generation” obscure the enormous variations that exist. This is particularly stark in terms of poverty and wealth – fewer than half of all retirees have an income big enough to pay income tax.  Older people’s median income lev­els remain lower than those of the population as a whole. Continue reading

A single-tier State Pension

Last week saw the publication of the long awaited White Paper on State Pension reform. This sets out plans for a single-tier State Pension of around £144 a week for people reaching State Pension age in the future (probably from April 2017 onwards). The reforms aim to create a simpler system, reducing the need for means-testing and making planning for retirement easier. They are also intended to produce a fairer system with a better State Pension for those who have had years of low earnings and caring responsibilities.

200x160_moneyAge UK supports these aims and we have welcomed the reforms as an important step forward for future pensioners. However we are aware that there are criticisms. In particular many older people with State Pensions of less than £144 are angry that they will not benefit. Continue reading

One swallow does not make a summer

At the start of the winter, it might seem strange to write about swallows and summers, especially when 21,700 older people died of cold related illness last year. That wasn’t 2,170 people. It was ten times that number and over the last 10 years, an average of over 26,000 have died each winter. You might be tempted to think that these deaths would have happened anyway and that they are ‘just brought forward’ by the cold of winter. But all the evidence tells us that this is not the case.

Every single death is unnecessary, avoidable, preventable.  For any other preventable cause of death this would be a national scandal.  There would be outcry, protest, even outrage. And even more so when we know that this has been going on for over 150 years, since 1841 when the then registrar general, William Farr (who also happened to be Florence Nightingale’s statistician) first recorded an excess of winter deaths over the summer.  A conservative estimate tells us that this amounts to an all-time, truly shocking total of over some 3 million deaths.

440x210_Snow-in-Shepton-MalFor the last 30 years there has been a debate about cause but the evidence shows that the over-riding reason for these deaths is the personal exposure of the individual to cold temperatures.  This cause was first revealed by Curwen’s ‘regression model’ in 1997 when he showed that there were three factors most associated with excess winter deaths. These factors were secular trend (roughly equating to improvements in standard of living); influenza (only in epidemic years) and temperature. Of these three, the most strongly associated was temperature. Continue reading