Party conferences 2012

As this year’s conference season commences, we’re clear about what the Government should be focussing on for older people: A firm commitment to Dilnot and social care reform, and the publication of a white paper and bill to introduce a flat-rate single tier pension.

Care is in crisis with many of those who need help and support in later life being badly let down by a faltering system, while others find themselves having to sell their homes in order to pay for the support they need. Of the 2 million older

Age UK’s party conference stand

people in England with care-related needs nearly 800,000 receive no support of any kind from public or private sector agencies.  At the same time, the legal framework of the social care system is not fit for purpose. There is a range of legislation, case law and guidance leading to a legal maze that fails to give people the support and clarity they need at what is often the most vulnerable times in their lives.

Age UK has therefore very much welcomed the Government’s White Paper and draft Care and Support Bill which were published in July. Together, we believe they have the potential to significantly improve the quality of care available and help create a care system that is fairer and more straightforward for older people and their families.

However, the potential of the proposals outlined cannot be fully realised until the Government faces up to, and resolves, the crucial issue of funding. Without adequate funding, this historic opportunity will be missed and increasing numbers of older people will be without the care they so badly need.

The commitment in principle to Dilnot’s approach is an important milestone, and we were encouraged by reports over the summer that the Prime Minister is supporting plans to introduce a cap on care costs at the level of £35,000, as recommended by the Dilnot Commission, at the next Comprehensive Spending Review. This would have a hugely positive impact on older people, removing the fear that thousands face of running up catastrophically high care bills they cannot afford to pay. It would also enable younger people to include care in their planning for later life, something which is practically impossible in the current system.

It is true that the Dilnot plan alone will not solve our social care crisis, but it is immensely important because it would create a fair deal for all citizens and give people real assurance about what they may have to pay in future. As such it would represent a historic step forward and something for Government to be proud of. We hope both David Cameron and Nick Clegg will use the opportunity of conference to make a firm commitment to this.

Alongside this, major changes are about to occur in pensions.The Government has said that it will bring forward a Pensions Bill in this session that will introduce the new flat-rate single tier state pension. The aim is for a simpler system with less means-testing which encourages saving by providing more certainty about the state provision.

Age UK very much supports the aim of a single tier state pension above the basic pension credit rate which would provide a fairer, simpler system and particularly benefit those who had low life time earnings due to low pay and caring responsibilities. We hope the Government will stick to its commitment and bring forward a White Paper and Bill this session.

However, as proposed, current pensioners would not benefit from any improvements to state pensions. The Government must not forget the 1.8 million older people who are living in poverty now and should set out a timetable for the reduction and abolition of pensioner poverty and a strategy for achieving this.  

We will be tweeting from different events at the party conferences each day, posting questions on Twitter about key issues that affect people in later life. Find out how you can get involved. 

Read more about Age UK’s presence at the party conferences

11 responses to “Party conferences 2012

  1. I am always a bit wary when Voluntary public funds supported set ups start having conferences. I have seen some of the expenses claimed at Conferences. Travel,accommodation,meals, All the things mentioned as needing attention can be done by MPs National Womens’ Register,Mothers’ Union etc

  2. What is the point of fighting for more state pension when many people will never live to reach the age to qualify for any state pension at all as the retiring age goalposts keep on being moved? 500,000 women targeted twice are being robbed of up to another 18 months of their freedom and the pension they paid in their lifetime for and they are supposed to be grateful for the measly 6 months concession and shut up now and work or beg for benefits until they drop, so if they do struggle on to retiring age they’ll be too worn out to enjoy any freedom.

  3. What is the point of fighting for more state pension when many people will never live to reach the age to qualify for any state pension at all as the retiring age goalposts keep on being moved? 500,000 women targeted twice are being robbed of up to another 18 months of their freedom and the pension they paid in their lifetime for and they are supposed to be grateful for the measly 6 months concession and shut up now and work or beg for benefits until they drop, so if they do struggle on to retiring age they’ll be too worn out to enjoy any freedom

  4. For all I’m 58+ I find it very hard to get interested in promised pension bills because I feel so far away from my state pension age. We’re told it’s not for people who are on the pension now, but the rest of us will likely never get to pension age as the goalposts keep moving further away whenever we seem to be approaching retirement.

  5. the proposed increase in state pension retirement age increase should be reversed as said the voice of 500000 women affected by this – we have all worked hard and paid our dues and suddenly had the goalposts moved – twice – in the current economic climate it is ludicrous to force older people to struggle on in forced employment (labour camps come to mind) when so many young people have no jobs and no prospects of a future – what happens when these young people reach retirement age – they won’t have saved for a pension and have no chance of ever having a home to sell – heaven help them

  6. I don’t trust the Government at all on pensions. They pressed ahead with the pension age increase, and robbed 500,000 hard working women of a further 18 months pension. All our objections were dismissed. Women with hard manual jobs like myself who will be unable to carry on a further 18 months will be forced to live on Job seekers allowance while looking for jobs that they have no chance of getting. Many of us will have worked and contributed for 50-51 years and are entitled to our pension. The Government say that they will bring forward the flat rate pension, but will they expect us to work even longer to pay for this. They promised before the last election that the pension age increase would not happen before 2020. and It was part of the Coalition Agreement both these promises have been broken. Many women of my age will be living in poverty but as we will not officially be pensioners we won’t count. The Government should acknowledge our problems and reverse the unfair increase in pension age.

  7. I’d like to add my voice and support to all the ladies that have had years added onto their pensionable age. Many of us have huge responsibilities looking after aged parents and will now have to continue working. Haven’t we earned our pensions having worked since we were 15 ? It’s unbelievable that the coalition lied in their coalition document promising not to raise the retirement age for women before 2020. How can we trust anything they say now. They’ve no idea how much this sweeping change has made to so many women. Illness and family committments mean they cannot work as they use to, why are we being forced into this position when young people cannot get work, it does not make any sense at all.

  8. I agree with the above comments. Most of our lives I, and women my age , thought we would receive our state pensions at 60.
    Then I realised that my state pension age had been changed (to 64). When it was announced there would be a further accelerated rise I mistakenly thought that the government wouldn’t move the age at which I could receive my state pension again, but they did! Now it’s 66. (I am 1954 born).
    It seems like each time I get closer, the goalposts are moved further and further away.
    I and many women like me feel quite desperate about this. We have not had time to provide the shortfall for ourselves. Many of us cannot continue in work because of ill health and caring for our elderly parents.
    Many of us haven’t got adequate work pensions to speak of as we stayed home to care for our children or worked part time.
    Although we would agree that men should retire at the same time as women, they (at the moment) have only to face another year more than they expected to receive their state pension.
    Many of us women now have to face a wait of another 6 years and those that have jobs will have to keep on working, when they are really unable to do so, in order to support themselves.
    With youth unemployment rising, how does this make any sense?
    The MPs who agreed this accelerated state pension age for women must have no idea what it feels like to be suffering from health problems, struggling to care for elderly parents or battling on in a demanding job, and then to have the worry of how they are going to support themselves having been robbed of many years of state pension.
    Please, Age UK, take up our cause. The government have broken their promises to us.

  9. Please raise the issue of the idiotic assumption that those on pensions who qualify for help with care costs will get 10 percent interest income on on their savings. If anyone can show me which savings account gives this rate I would be delighted. It is ridiculous that this cannot be made more realistic.

  10. I agree with a lot of the things people are saying ….the retirement goal posts are being moved all the time. I am 56+ have worked without a break since 15yrs old and was looking forward to being able to retire and have a well earned rest and able to do things and go places without having to request permission……. But I will along with thousands of others could possibly have left this mortal world without being able to enjoy retirement which is no doubt what the government is hoping so as to continue paying benefits to people who have never worked and never will …… They have to get the money from somewhere and we are such easy targets ……

  11. My electric and gas supplier has increased my Direct Debits by £20 on each account even though I am not in arrears.

    I have altered my Direct Debits to what they were and informed the supplier. I have the right to do this. As I am over 80 I will,if necessaary use my fuel allowance,always supposing that is still to be had,to clear and arrears.

    This mild form of Civil Disobedience ougth to be taken up by others. As long as one is paying a reasonable sum not much they can do.

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