Welcome to the (digitally) active citizen

In 1991, Estonia enthusiastically embraced its freedom and independence from the Soviet Union, but its economy was in a parlous situation. It faced overwhelming bills just to sustain its basic public services. A leading light in its Government, who went on to serve for ten years from 2006 as President Toomas Ilves, was an autodidact computer programmer, and forcefully advocated that those public services would only be sustainable if the country embraced the digital economy. So it came to pass that everyone had to sharpen up their skills, and get used to paying their taxes, updating their health records, registering their right to citizen benefits, voting, and even applying for a bus pass online. No exceptions. Continue reading “Welcome to the (digitally) active citizen”

A life worth living

Commissioned by Age UK campaigns team, Sue Linge

In an almost unbearably sad piece about the death of her husband, the journalist Decca Aitkenhead wrote that ‘loneliness, I have learnt, is not an absence of company. It is an absence of meaning.’

Age UK estimates that more than 1.2 million older people are lonely and that chronic loneliness is affecting a growing number of older people as the population ages. There are particular issues that mean older people are at risk from loneliness – such as bereavement, ill health and complex long term health conditions. Loneliness is an issue that we think deserves more focus and we highlight it in our manifesto for the 2017 General Election. We believe the new Government must take the lead in developing a national strategy to identify, prevent and tackle loneliness, especially but not exclusively among older people. Continue reading “A life worth living”

A great place to grow older?

Today, we launched our Agenda for Later Life 2015 report, Age UK’s annual assessment of how public policy is meeting the needs of older people. Here, Jane Vass, Head of Public Policy, discuss the findings of the report in light of the upcoming Spending Review. 

In the run up to what is likely to be one of the most challenging Spending Reviews of recent times, Agenda for Later Life, Age UK’s annual audit of how public policy is meeting the needs of our ageing population, highlights that older people are increasingly being thrown back on their own resources, as the public services on which they rely are being scaled back or withdrawn.

Each year, we track a number of key indicators, and this year shows progress in many areas but also the scale of the challenge facing us. Continue reading “A great place to grow older?”

Who are the older digitally excluded?

This blog was contributed by David Mortimer, Head of Digital Inclusion, at Age Age UK.

For many years, local and national organisations have been working to support individuals learn how to use computers. Despite many good initiatives and easier to use technology, new approaches are needed to reach and support those at risk of being increasingly cut off from the public and commercial service offers which assume both access and the skills to use their products.

That this remains primarily an older person’s issue is no surprise, but most older people have joined the digital age and many are competent. Those who have been left out, or have chosen to be left out, are not a homogenous group with one catch-all solution.440x210-two-men-laughing-computer

The traditional approach of marketing the benefits of being online has a role, but will continue to miss the mark for the majority of ‘digitally excluded’ older people. With so many simply not seeing any relevance of engaging with technology to them, the benefits should be seamed through everyday interventions and social activities so that older people can make choices based on a better knowledge of how this technology can enhance their unique combination of interests and circumstances. Continue reading “Who are the older digitally excluded?”

Equal access to services

Unlikely as it sounds, a recent 153 page legal decision about VAT returns could  prove to be a turning point in the campaign to get recognition of the needs of many older people when it comes to using online services.

In what’s being hailed as a significant  and closely watched decision,  a judge has upheld the right of three small business owners not to file their VAT returns on line. Two of those who brought the court case have disabilities. The other lives in a remote part of the country without reliable broadband access.200x160_hand-uses-mouse

In her ruling, the judge said it is a breach of the human rights act to require VAT forms to be filed online without exemption for older people, those with disabilities or who live in isolated parts of the country.

For Age UK, the decision is very welcome. Equal access to services not just for older people but everyone, has long been one of our core campaigning goals. Continue reading “Equal access to services”

Guest blog: Virtually Dead – a new radio play

This guest blog was contributed by Liz Baker, who is currently a student of the M.A. in Writing course at Warwick University.

When, over quarter of a century ago, I watched my toddler niece teach my mother how to use a microwave, it set me thinking about the pace of change in our world, a pace so fast that toddlers quickly became teachers.

Liz Baker
Liz Baker

For children, everything is new so nothing is daunting, but for many adults born before the 1980s, adapting to the internet was – and still is – a big and scary change. In a few decades we have moved from sending first hesitant emails to using the internet to run our lives, do our shopping, find our loves and even manage our finances. Continue reading “Guest blog: Virtually Dead – a new radio play”

Meeting the challenges of an ageing population

Each year, Age UK stands back and takes an overview of how society is meeting the needs of people in later life and sets out our agenda for public policy in the year ahead. In our Agenda for Later Life 2013 report we track changes in a range of key areas including money matters, work and learning and health and social care.

A couple smile at each other in the garden.

Public attitudes, policies and the economy all impact on people’s experiences of ageing.  This year, as the economy bumps along the bottom, it would be all too easy to concentrate on the challenges we face. However, we strongly believe in the need to focus on the opportunities as well.

The publication of a White Paper setting out plans for a new single tier State Pension brings hope of better provision in future for those with low incomes and interrupted working lives. Continue reading “Meeting the challenges of an ageing population”