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?”

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?”

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”

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”

Does the Chancellor realise that care can’t wait?

On Wednesday 5 December, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, will be giving his Autumn Statement to Parliament. After the Budget, it is one of the most important events in the Chancellor’s calendar. He will be explaining the current economic situation facing the country and will detail some of the Government’s plans for the future.

This is the perfect opportunity for the Chancellor to show that the Government is serious about tackling the crisis in social care. Back in July, we saw the White Paper, Caring for our future, which set out a range of proposals to radically reform the social care system. These included a minimum eligibility threshold, more rights for carers and reinforced by media reports , a commitment to the principle of capping the cost of care, to name just a few.

AgeUk at the Treasury with George Osborne MasksShould these proposals be implemented, they have the potential to make a huge difference to older people who rely on social care to live with dignity. However, the Government have yet to explain how they plan to fund these proposals, risking the whole process being kicked into the long grass. Continue reading “Does the Chancellor realise that care can’t wait?”