General Election Series: Vote later life in 2015

 

Age UK pre-election rally for older people at QEII Hall Westminster with political party MP's

This week’s blog from our General Election Series highlights the key policy commitments from the party’s manifestos that are relevant to older people. This post was contributed by Hannah Pearce, joint Head of Public Affairs, at Age UK. 

I’m not sure what the collective noun is for a collection of manifestos but we were certainly hit by a flurry of thick wads of paper this week. The parties have finally pinned their colours to the mast and published their manifestos – which have been met with varying degrees of enthusiasm and cynicism. And we’re now in the last leg of what has felt like a long election campaign, with voting day less than 3 weeks away in what’s been termed the most unpredictable election in a generation.

Age UK wouldn’t dream of advising people about how to vote – indeed we’re rightly prohibited by charity and election law from doing so. However we are very keen to engage voters in the election and specifically to encourage people to question the parties and their local candidates about their plans to make this country ‘a great place to grow older’. A few months ago Age UK launched our own manifesto with a wide range of ideas and proposals explaining how this could be achieved. Continue reading “General Election Series: Vote later life in 2015”

General Election Series: Health and social care high on the agenda at Age UK Rally

General Election rally
Age UK’s General Election Rally

This week’s blog from our General Election Series is a guest post from Mary, a campaigner from Norfolk, who came to our General Election Rally in London on Tuesday 24 March. 

With the Care Act 2014 coming into force on the first of April, we spoke to Mary, from Norfolk, about how the issues of health and social care dominated Age UK General Election rally on 24 March.

‘Last week, thanks to the efforts of Age UK, and along with 250 other  representatives of our older population, I was given the opportunity to both listen to and question senior politicians, including David Cameron, on their plans for older people’s services, should they be elected.

‘Other than applauding speakers on the triple lock, highlighting the need to retain universal benefits such as the bus pass, and voicing regret that today’s pensioners will not benefit from the new state pension, the bulk of the day’s discussions undoubtedly focussed on care and the NHS.  Continue reading “General Election Series: Health and social care high on the agenda at Age UK Rally”

General Election Series: Feeling well

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This week’s blog from our General Election Series examines how everyone in later life should have opportunities to enjoy life and feel well. 

The dominant story on older people’s health is often rooted in the view that not feeling unwell is all you can expect as you age. Whatever happened to wanting to feel well?

This may only be a minor linguistic distinction, but it is an important one. This popular perception is partly reflective of how health and care services operate, typically geared to responding to crisis.

Assumption that older age = poor health

But there is also a general fatalism in what health and wellbeing in later life means to people. The likelihood of remaining active and living well into late old age is often underestimated, while the assumption that longer average life expectancy is automatically linked to being in poor health is overestimated. Continue reading “General Election Series: Feeling well”

Fuel poverty – the next steps?

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The Coalition Government devolved the delivery of fuel poverty policy to the energy supply industry by introducing the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to the household names in the energy supply business. Via their licence to supply, they are obligated to reduce domestic carbon emissions (ie help households to use less energy) by the most cost-effective method.

Scaling back of the Energy Company Obligation 

This turned out to be a programme which added about 5% to gas bills and about 11% to electricity bills  yielding some £1bn per year for remedial fuel poverty work. As global energy prices rose, these ‘extras’ on gas and electricity bills came into the firing line, and the Government scaled back ECO in 2013. With no tax-funded programme in play, and what is effectively a cap on what it obliges energy companies to do, the outlook for those in fuel poverty is bleak.  Continue reading “Fuel poverty – the next steps?”

General Election Series: A rallying call for a great place to grow older

Older campaignersThis week’s blog from our General Election Series focuses on Age UK’s General Election Rally, which was held on Tuesday 24 March 2015.

Yesterday, Age UK held a General Election Rally event to give older people the opportunity hear from representatives from the five main political parties about their policies to make the UK ‘a great place to grow older’.

Although the media coverage over the last 24 hours has focused predominantly on the audience’s heckling of the Prime Minister, our first speaker, there was much more to the day. Continue reading “General Election Series: A rallying call for a great place to grow older”

General Election Series: Safe at home

Photo credit: Diana Parkhouse (Flickr Creative Commons)
Photo credit: Diana Parkhouse (Flickr Creative Commons)

This week’s blog from our General Election Series highlights why everyone in later life should feel safe, comfortable and secure at home. 

A decent and comfortable home environment is important to all of us, but it’s especially important as we age. Older people can be particularly vulnerable to the effects of the cold, damp and hazardous housing conditions. It’s estimated that poor housing costs the NHS £600m every year, with a total cost to society of up to £1.5bn. That’s why Age UK is calling for a comprehensive joined up programme to improve home conditions for older people and new affordable ‘lifetime’ homes built to higher accessibility and energy efficiency standards.

Helping people make adaptations

Many older people need help and advice to repair, adapt or modify their homes. Home improvement agencies and handy person services continue to play a key role in offering practical assistance and can identify the resources needed to pay for work. Yet in recent years these services have been cut back, despite widespread cross party agreement on the essential role they play. Continue reading “General Election Series: Safe at home”

The Budget 2015 – Age UK reaction

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

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has this week announced the Budget for 2015/16. Mike Smith, joint Head of Public Affairs at Age UK, looks at how the Government’s proposals will affect older people. 

Yesterday afternoon the Chancellor, George Osborne, stepped up to the despatch box to deliver the final Budget of this Government. This was always going to be a highly political Budget, with one eye firmly focussed on the election which is now just seven 7 weeks away. At Age UK we were looking out for announcements most likely to impact on older people up and down the country, as well as what was ‘missing’ – proposals we have been calling for which may not have been included.

So what was the main announcement in the Budget affecting older people? The most significant budget announcements for many older people are the pensions reforms for those who have already taken out an annuity. This follows the radical reforms to private pensions set out in last year’s Budget. This time around, the Chancellor announced that from April next year pensioners who already have a pension annuity will be able to sell their annuity income to a third party. This is likely to be welcomed by many older people who have taken out an annuity and feel they may have missed out on the reforms which come into effect in April.  Continue reading “The Budget 2015 – Age UK reaction”