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”

General Election Series: Care for today and tomorrow

440x210_care_home

This week’s blog from our General Election Series focuses on the importance of  having access to quality health and care services for all of us as we age. 

We are living in an increasingly ageing society. There are 11 million people aged 65 or over in the UK, 3 million of whom are aged 80 or over. The number of people over 85 in the UK is predicted to double in the next 20 years and nearly treble in the next 30. This is by any measure a triumph to be celebrated.

However we are far from being prepared for all the consequences of our longer lives. The social care system is a case in point. Care services are being cut – between 2005/6 and 2013/14 the proportion of people aged 65+ receiving care fell from 15.3% to 9.1%. This means over 380,000 fewer people receiving care than a decade ago. The number of people receiving home care has fallen by over 30%. Preventative services like day care and meals on wheels have been cut by over 60%. Continue reading “General Election Series: Care for today and tomorrow”

General Election Series: We want a world where everyone in later life has enough money

Photo credit: Philip Taylor (Flickr Creative Commons)
Photo credit: Philip Taylor (Flickr Creative Commons)

This week’s blog from our General Election Series looks at why ensuring that everyone in later life has enough money is a key part of our ambition for the next Parliament.

While Age UK celebrates the fact that being older is no longer synonymous with being poor, sadly this is still the reality for too many. That is why ensuring that people have enough money is a key part of Age UK’s ambition for the next Parliament and the first of our blogs looking at our five priorities.

There are still 1.6 million older people living in poverty and many others living just above the poverty line. We know this can’t be changed overnight but we believe all politicians should commit to at least halving the numbers in poverty by the end of the next Parliament.

We have highlighted two ways to help achieve this. Firstly let’s ensure there is a decent State Pension that recognises years of work and caring. The full amount of the new State Pension being introduced on 6 April 2016 will be more than £150 a week and will provide a boost for many low earners and women who have spent many years caring or in part-time low paid work. Continue reading “General Election Series: We want a world where everyone in later life has enough money”

General Election Series: Why I think we should make the UK a great place to grow older

This week’s blog, from our General Election series, is a guest post from campaigner John Haywood.

I originally got involved with Age UK when I was advised to visit the Age UK shop in Romford- they’ve got a little office at the back where I was given a benefits check. It was such a relief- I’d been struggling to pay my bills, and they told me I was actually entitled to a whole load of benefits, like exemption from council tax and Pension Credit. It’s made a vast difference to me. Now, I’m telling people my story, and campaigning to make sure other older people get what they’re entitled to.

John Haywood, campaigner
John Haywood, campaigner

As an Age UK campaigner, I’ve been involved in the General election campaign. I sat on the Age UK sofa opposite Big Ben and explained how I thought we could make Britain a great place to grow older. For me, the essential thing I want to see from the next parliament, is a commitment to making sure older people have enough money to be comfortable. And that they know about what is available to help them if they don’t.

I speak to so many people who just don’t know what help they could be getting. Day to day, I give people as much information as possible. I tell them about Age UK and the help they can get- for instance, a friend of mine who is 80, and cares for his 92-year old sister. But this isn’t enough. The government needs to commit to ensuring older people have enough information, and know where to go to get it. I was terrified at the thought of how I’d get by when I retired. I only found out about benefits checks by chance- someone mentioned it to me on the bus, just like I now mention it to people I meet on the bus! It shouldn’t be down to chance, because it is so essential. Continue reading “General Election Series: Why I think we should make the UK a great place to grow older”

General Election Series: Making Britain a great place to grow older

We want our country to be a great place to grow older
We want our country to be a great place to grow older

Age UK is today launching our campaign ahead of the General Election, asking parliamentary candidates from all parties to become ‘Age Champions’ and political parties to support our vision that by the end of the next Parliament the UK is a truly great place to grow older.

Acting on the campaign’s calls would make a difference to the lives of millions of older people up and down the country.  1.6 million older people are still living in poverty, despite Britain being the 6th richest country in the world. 1 million older people haven’t spoken to anyone for a month, resulting in loneliness and isolation which is not only miserable, but has serious consequences for a person’s health too.

There are 870,000 people in our country who do not receive the care and support they so badly need.  25,000 older people die unnecessarily each year because of the cold during winter.  44% of older people miss out on the benefits of being online, which can exclude them from vital services.  So while we know that we all have the potential to make the UK a great place to grow older, there’s a long way to go yet. Continue reading “General Election Series: Making Britain a great place to grow older”