Why we need the triple lock

440x210_pound-coins In a surprise announcement at the start of 2014 David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that maintaining the ‘triple lock’ for the basic state pension will be a key part of the Conservative’s next election manifesto. This would mean that, at least until 2020, the basic state pension would be increased annually by the rise in prices, earnings or 2.5 per cent – whichever is higher. In response the Labour leader Ed Miliband has also said he is committed to the triple lock.

Reaction has been variable. Some newspapers immediately suggested this would affect other benefits such as the winter fuel payment – the Daily Mail’s headline was ‘Turmoil over OAP benefits’. The Independent welcomed the announcement but said it does not go far enough pointing out that the basic pension is still only £110 a week.

Alternatively, others have focussed on what this means for younger people with the Intergenerational Foundation stating the move is unaffordable and ‘betrays’ the younger generation. Continue reading “Why we need the triple lock”

Preparing for an ageing society

Lord Filkin was bitingly critical in his response to the Government’s response to his committee’s report on Ready for Ageing?’ The report had peered twenty years ahead, and found that the political establishment was ‘woefully underprepared’ for the enormous changes presented by an ageing society:  the response, Lord Filkin declared, showed that the Government was ‘wilfully underprepared’ to address these issues.  He damned its focus ‘on past achievements and the coming election’, when what he wanted was a frank assessment of the changes we will need to make in welfare policies, pensions, health and social care, public services and citizen behaviour over the next couple of decades.440px_older_carers_hands

We share Lord Filkin’s frustration.  It is clear that the Government finds it difficult to think long term – which is perhaps understandable in a Coalition Government with a programme pivoted on 2015. Whilst they have ignored the suggestion to produce a White Paper setting out strategies to approach changing demographics the Government’s rather minimalist response to ask its chief scientist to review the impact of ageing on policies may produce some fruit. Continue reading “Preparing for an ageing society”

Guest blog – Strengthening the Care Bill

This blog was contributed by Baroness Sally Greengross, a crossbench member of the House of Lords. Baroness Greengross is seeking to amend the Care Bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords, on the issue of delayed discharge.

The Care Bill that is currently being debated in the House of Lords is a vital part of the changes that are necessary to reform social care in England, by clarifying and bringing up-to-date the legal framework of the care system. A key area that the Bill must address is the delay that those needing social care experience, while waiting for a package of support to be put in place to enable them to leave hospital.

Baroness Greengross
Baroness Greengross

Facing a stay on a hospital ward can be difficult for anyone but for an older person being admitted following a crisis, such as broken hip from a fall at home, it can be particularly upsetting and disruptive.

Recent statistics show that people who experience a delay in accessing social care, go on to wait much longer for a package of support to be put in place compared to when the Government came to power. Someone will now wait an average of 27 days in hospital before a social care package is put together to allow them to go home – 12.8 per cent longer. For those accessing residential care the average wait is 30.3 days. Continue reading “Guest blog – Strengthening the Care Bill”

UK life reimagined

A demographic revolution is under way, with more of us living longer than ever before. Fifty years ago there were nearly 20 million people in the world age 80 or over; now that figure stands at about 105 million, and it’s rising fast. Many – though not enough – of our older population are in good health and will retire with a decent income and a strong social network, and many have much to offer society.

The timing of the debate around the aging population in the UK is then 440px_older_carers_handsperhaps unfortunate, held as it is against a back­drop of a beleaguered economy. Since the Coalition Government came to power we have seen cuts to government services and working-age benefits and a further £10 billion reduction in welfare to come. Against this context there is a perception that older people have fared better than most other groups but media commentary suggesting that today’s older people belong to “the lucky generation” obscure the enormous variations that exist. This is particularly stark in terms of poverty and wealth – fewer than half of all retirees have an income big enough to pay income tax.  Older people’s median income lev­els remain lower than those of the population as a whole. Continue reading “UK life reimagined”

Police and Crime Commissioners

In terms of elections, this week’s chance to vote for Police and Crime Commissioners in your local police force area may not be up there with deciding the next leader of the free world, but in their own way the elections are significant.

This will be the first time that voters will have had the opportunity to elect Commissioners, who will be accountable for how crime is tackled in their area. Apart from London, where the Mayor has taken on the powers of a Commissioner, every police force in England and Wales will gain a new elected leader.

Crime is a major cause of concern to older people and fear of crime can increase isolation. But there is also evidence that older victims often experience ill health and reduced wellbeing, particularly if they are subjected to crimes such as distraction burglaries, which often target older people.

Photo: elliott.bledsoe (Creative Commons)

At present, older people’s experiences and views do not adequately inform crime reduction, so if Police and Crime Commissioners are to ensure their community safety and crime reduction services tackle crime affecting older people, they need to take time to find out their views and act on them. Continue reading “Police and Crime Commissioners”