The Autumn Statement announced bleak growth figures and more cuts ahead, reminding us all, once again, we face hard times and unprecedented and prolonged pressure on public services many of which older people rely.
This is why now, more than ever, we all need – the government, public, private, and voluntary sectors and individuals – to work together to meet the challenges and maximise the opportunities our growing ageing population presents.
Age UK, together with our national and local partners, is playing its part. In 2012 we reached over 7 million older people with our information and advice services, our handy person service visited nearly 14,000 homes and we helped more than 65,000 older people keep active and healthy through our Fit as a Fiddle programme. In tough economic times we understand supporting people in later life to make informed choices and maximise their wealth, health, independence and wellbeing is important for the individuals and helps drive down inefficient and unnecessary costs in our public services.
It is critical the Government does the same. We want to see action in 2013 in the following areas:
- A Pensions Bill as announced in the Queen’s Speech to introduce a universal flat rate pension and to simplify the current complex system making it easier for people to plan and prepare for their retirement. This must be alongside a clear strategy and timetable to reduce the 1.7 million pensioners who currently live in poverty.
- A Care and Support Bill which includes Andrew Dilnot’s recommendations to introduce a cap on the amount individuals pay for care. This must be accompanied by a commitment to better fund social care that is so desperately needed.
- Implementation of the Dignity in Care Commission’s recommendations by the government, health and public sectors to ensure that the Government and the health and care sector acts to deliver dignity for all. More widely we must make sure older people are supported to live happy and healthy lives through equal access to appropriate prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services.
Older people make an enormous contribution as carers, workers, consumers, volunteers, taxpayers and as members of communities across the UK. We need to work together to ensure that they are supported to meet their aspirations and to live rewarding later lives.