Can we really afford not to fund social care?

At Prime Minister’s Question time just before the Autumn Statement, this Wednesday afternoon, The leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, chose to focus his questions to the Prime Minister on the funding crisis in social care. Corbyn asked the Prime Minister about the more than 1 million people who are not receiving the social care they need, the impact this is having on emergency hospital admissions, the fact that it is causing people to be stranded in hospital for longer than they need, the worry and fear that people face in old age and the stress that it places on NHS and social care staff.

Continue reading “Can we really afford not to fund social care?”

Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015

Age Uk campaigners deliver 'dont cut care' petition signatures to Chancellor of exchequers office, no 11 Downing street, London
Age Uk campaigners deliver ‘dont cut care’ petition signatures to Chancellor of exchequers office, no 11 Downing street, London

This post was contributed by Angela Kitching, joint Head of Public Affairs, at Age UK. 

‘A spending review for pensioners’ seems to be the reaction of many in the twittersphere, following George Osborne’s statement. Certainly, the Government’s ongoing commitment to the triple lock, up rating pensions by earnings, prices or 2.5%, is very welcome ongoing commitment. A decent state pension is vital to many older people who rely on the state as their sole source of income in later life and it sets a foundation for a decent retirement income.

But if we restrict our view to incomes alone, we are missing the bigger picture. Older people, as any council funding chief or hospital manager will tell you, are significant users of public services. Adult social care budgets are under enormous pressure as it stands. Over 1 million people aged over-65 do not receive the social care support they need and are coping with no help. These needs include help with basic activities such as going to the toilet or getting dressed. Continue reading “Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015”

More needed to make Britain a great place to grow older

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne
The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

Our latest blog has been contributed by Mike Smith, joint Head of Public affairs at Age UK, commenting on the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

As we continue to digest the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor’s announcement contained some welcome news for older people, but lacked action on some of the biggest issues Age UK has been campaigning on to make Britain a great place to grow older in the coming years.

What was in the statement? Certainly we heard some welcome news around the £2billion extra funding for the NHS, and the additional £1.2billion to improve GP services.  As people grow older many of us will rely more and more on vital health services.  As Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, highlighted in the Five Year Forward View the NHS will need an additional £8billion a year in the coming years and so this is a positive start. Continue reading “More needed to make Britain a great place to grow older”

Is the NHS on the brink of a winter crisis?

The mild days of late autumn are barely gone, yet concerns about a looming winter crisis in the NHS are already hitting the headlines. With financial pressure growing, performance targets slipping and hospitals already overstretched, a political storm has hit Westminster and Whitehall. Could another cold snap tip the NHS over the edge?


Winter pressures in the NHS happen every year, as a result of higher emergency admissions and increased numbers of people requiring hospital care (e.g. people with respiratory conditions or winter viruses). Most of those affected are older people, many of whom have higher care needs and can be more vulnerable to the cold.

Yet, despite anticipatory planning and the usual precautions, there are growing concerns that accident and emergency (A&E) services are heading inevitably towards a midwinter meltdown. NHS statistics have revealed that A&E performance in late autumn this year has been worse than in the depths of last winter.

On average over the past four weeks, just 93.5% of patients attending A&E in England were seen within four hours, with 23 trusts failing to reach 90% last week. By contrast, above 95% of patients were seen within the required timeframe last winter.


The unprecedented demand on A&Es has serious implications for older people’s health and experience of care. The high levels of bed occupancy have led to people being held in ambulances outside the hospital or waiting on trolleys for many hours. This has also had a knock-on effect on other hospital services, with patients having their appointments and operations cancelled.

For the many older people who are lonely and isolated, or living with frailty or dementia, the inability of A&Es to respond to their needs can be disastrous. Due to a lack of appropriate support in the community, they are often forced to wait until they reach a crisis for a response and rely on emergency admissions for help. Arriving in a worse state of health, they are then faced with a fraught and overstretched urgent care centre or A&E. Continue reading “Is the NHS on the brink of a winter crisis?”

Ever receding retirement?

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


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?”

The shame of excess winter deaths

This morning the Office for National Statistics announced that there were 31,100 excess winter deaths last winter.

To say this is a national shame (as we have done) is both a cliché and also absolutely true.

Excess winter deaths – or the additional deaths during the winter months when compared to the rest of the year – are entirely preventable.

We know this because other countries with much harsher winters – such as the Scandinavian countries – have significantly fewer excess winter deaths.440x210_Snow-in-Shepton-Mal

Yet in the UK the numbers remain stubbornly high. Today’s figures show a 29% rise on the previous year and represent a four year high.

We all know that last winter was cold and long, but the figures are still unacceptable. That older people’s lives are still at the mercy of the weather in the twenty-first century is something we should rightly be ashamed of. Continue reading “The shame of excess winter deaths”

Working together to support older people

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. Continue reading “Working together to support older people”