Ever receding retirement?

This blog was contributed by Hannah Pearce, Age UK’s joint Head of Public Affairs. 

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The big headline in today’s autumn statement was the Chancellor’s announcement to increase state pension age. George Osborne said that state pension age would be set following a general principle by which people could expect to spend a third of their adult life in retirement. He declared that state pension age needs to keep up with life expectancy. On current assumptions, this would mean an increase to 68 in the mid 2030’s and 69 by the mid 2040’s. This follows a number of increases to State Pension Age in the last three Pensions Acts, the most recent of which speeded up equalisation so that women’s State Pension Age will increase to 65 between April 2016 and November 2018 and then to 66 for both men and women between December 2018 and October 2020. The current bill going through parliament proposes an increase to 67 between 2026 and 2028.

We have two broad concerns with this pronouncement. Firstly life expectancy figures on their own do not tell the whole story. Whilst life expectancy at birth (in England) for men is 83 the life expectancy gap – the gap between the highest and lowest life expectancy estimates by local authority is almost 9 years. The picture looks even worse when you examine healthy life expectancy which is only 64. And the male healthy life expectancy gap by local authority is over 15 years with Richmond at one of the scale where it is just over 70 compared to Manchester where it is just 55. Continue reading “Ever receding retirement?”

A fair state pension for all?

This blog was contributed by Hannah Pearce, Age UK’s joint Head of Public Affairs.

Every few years the government announces its intention to fundamentally reform the pension system once and for all to ensure it is fair and sustainable for current and future generations. Each of these attempts is made with good 200x160_moneyintentions and with the hope that the changes will last. However a few years down the line the next government decides it’s time to try again. I’m already working on my fourth pension bill since beginning work for Age UK.

Successive governments are compelled to grapple with the pensions system to catch up with societal changes such as increases in life expectancy, changes in working patterns and to counter structural unfairness. For example several of the state pension reforms in the 2007 Pensions Act sought to ensure that the pension system better reflected the lives of women who often have some time out of employment caring for children, older family members, or working part time.

The compelling reasons for reform under the current proposals were to create a system which is intended to be fairer, simpler and more sustainable. Under the single tier system individuals will receive a state pension based on their own contribution record of up to £146 in today’s money if they have a full record of 35 years contributions. Continue reading “A fair state pension for all?”

Party conferences 2013

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

It’s hard to believe that it’s September already and that in a couple of weeks’ time the party conference season will be upon us again. After an unusually sunny summer and a rather sombre silly season political discussion will soon restart at Westminster and then around the country in Glasgow (Lib Dems), Brighton (Labour) and Manchester (Conservatives).

The party conferences always provide a useful opportunity for formal and informal discussions with politicians, party members, businesses, unions and other charities to discuss both their priorities and ours for the legislative session ahead. This year the looming presence of the general election will be felt, still 18 months away and a long way off in political terms but not such a long time for policy development and decisions on spending priorities. Age UK constantly engages with the political parties to highlight the needs and experiences of older people but the party conferences remain a particularly useful occasion. Continue reading “Party conferences 2013”

Government announces care costs cap

This blog was contributed by Caroline Abrahams, Director of External Affairs, for Age UK. 

Last year’s White Paper and draft Bill make these encouraging times for social care, for decades a Cinderella service. What has been so obviously lacking though is the funding for a better system, so today’s announcement about the implementation of ‘Dilnot’ is a welcome step forward.

Unfortunately, implementation has to wait until April 2017, so very few older people living in a care home now will benefit, but at least some of those who come after them will: the Government estimates that 1 in 6 older people who need care will gain, but by just how much and over what timescale is hard to tell without detailed modelling which the Government has not (yet) released.

Continue reading “Government announces care costs cap”

Guest blog – Dan Jarvis MP

This guest blog was contributed by Dan Jarvis MP.

Dan Jarvis MP
Dan Jarvis MP

During the winter of 2011/12, 24,000 people died as a result of plummeting temperatures and soaring heating bills.  These deaths did not come without warning. Similar numbers have died every winter for decades. As winter draws upon us again, it is unacceptable that many people face an uncertain and dangerous future, simply because they cannot afford to keep themselves warm.

19,500 winter deaths, of the total of 24,000, happened amongst those aged over 75. These men and women worked hard contributing to our society on the understanding that they will be cared for if the need arises, and they deserve far better treatment in these cold months.

Care for the elderly is an important yardstick by which societies should be measured. It is unacceptable that in modern Britain, which despite economic recession is still a relatively prosperous nation, vulnerable people are at risk simply because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly.

As well as a moral tragedy, fuel poverty is an economic scandal. The former Chief Medical Officer, estimated that cold homes cost the NHS £850 million every year. An end to the unacceptable levels of cold winter deaths would not only save lives during the winter months, but the savings made would help to save countless more lives. Continue reading “Guest blog – Dan Jarvis MP”

EY2012 – a happy and glorious year for older Europeans?

This blog was contributed by Nicola Robinson, Age UK’s European Political Adviser.

2012 wasn’t just the year of the London Olympics, and the Queen’s Jubilee, it was also the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY2012).

Like London 2012 – recognised as happy and glorious, EY2012 leaves us with much to celebrate.

The Opening Ceremony took place in Copenhagen – a pretty good place to grow old, with impressive participation rates in employment, volunteering and all sorts of fun.EY2012

Commissioner Andor fired the starting pistol and Eurocrats were off to a flyer, producing a bumper crop of pan-European reports, including a Statistical Portrait, 2012 Ageing Report, and Eurobarometer Survey.

There are now 182m Europeans aged 50+, living longer, more active lives than ever before.

To celebrate, Age UK hosted a World Café, organized by older people, inviting 100 Europeans aged 50+ to help change perceptions of ageing.  We also celebrated the huge contribution of older people at our Volunteering Awards, supported by the European Commission and Parliament.  And we celebrated physical activity in later life, through our Fit as a Fiddle programme, which won EU and WHO plaudits. Continue reading “EY2012 – a happy and glorious year for older Europeans?”

No news is not always good news

The Chancellor delivered his third Autumn Statement today. He tried to strike a tone of cautious optimism over recent economic data suggesting the end of the recession and rising employment. Underneath this, however, there were more cuts as Government struggles to eliminate the structural deficit as it has prioritised.

Yet again the biggest omission from the Chancellor’s statement was any plan to help resolve the crisis in social care. We welcome the continued protection for the NHS budget but unless funding for social care is urgently addressed then the knock on costs to the NHS will continue to grow. The announcement of a further two per cent cut to council budgets in two years’ time is likely to exacerbate this if it leads to further reductions to frontline care and support services that are often already stripped to the bone.

Allowing the social care system to limp along, leaving too many older people isolated and afraid of what tomorrow might bring, is not only morally questionable but makes no financial sense. Reform of care funding would be a worthy legacy for any Government, it remains a scandal that 18 months after Andrew Dilnot published his report, it remains unresolved. Continue reading “No news is not always good news”