Contrary to the stereotype of later life as a time of stagnation, as we age we may need to adjust to events such as falling income, changing health, the need to care for a partner or bereavement. At the same time, the external world continues to present new challenges, as technologies and the prevailing economic conditions change for good or ill.
Age UK’s Planning for Later Life project, funded by Prudential, is designed to help people adapt to just some of these challenges. Initially piloted with 11 local Age UKs across England and Wales, to date it has helped 2,590 older people through face to face advice sessions, home visits and telephone support. From January 2014 we will be rolling it out more widely. Continue reading “Age-friendly financial capability”
Last week Age UK launched the second edition of its Economic Tracker. This addition includes the result of the first wave of a survey we have developed to track older peoples’ views on the economy and their financial situation.
It received quite a lot of coverage in the media, particularly because of the startling statistic the nearly a quarter of people in their early 50s were worried about losing their home as a result of falling behind with mortgage repayments. Like other age groups many older people are suffering a fall in income in the current period of austerity and this is having an impact on their well-being.
Over three million people aged 50+ are very worried about the cost of living. This is in the context of rapidly increasing prices for some essential items, especially utilities, which we know have a significant impact on older people’s finances.
Only thirty-eight per cent of 50+ say the future looks good for them
35% feel worse off financially compared to last year (see chart below)
Since our first edition, the UK economy and economic policy have given us food for thought. There are concerns, disappointments, and one or two silver linings. As our polling data suggests the economic situation is particularly worrying for many of those approaching retirement, tomorrow’s pensioners, who find it more difficult to find a job following redundancy. Our analysis has found that older workers are more likely to be made redundant when compared to those aged between 24 – 49. This translates into higher proportions of older unemployed workers being out of work for longer. Forty-seven per cent of unemployed people aged 50 – 64 have been out of work for 12 months or more compared to thirty-seven per cent of people aged between 25 and 49. The situation of older people is not as bad as those between 16 – 24, but it is important to highlight that all ages are struggling in these tough economic times.
Quite rightly there is a lot of attention on the young unemployed at the moment, but we must ensure that those over 50 are not forgotten. More can be done by the Government and employers to recognise the value of workers over 50 (the experience and skills that come with a longer working life), provide more training and learning for those in later life, and do more to eliminate the ageism that too often occurs in workplaces.
This guest blog was contributed by Jo Swinson MP, Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs.
Despite the excellent work carried out by Trading Standards and other enforcers, far too many rogue traders still get away without paying any money back to their victims. As the Consumer Minister I was shocked to find out that more than 60% of us have been targeted by misleading and aggressive sales practices at some point. And as more of us get wise to their practices and scams they are happy to turn their attention to easier targets, the most vulnerable and elderly in society.
While the vast majority of traders are trustworthy, all too often we hear stories of elderly people being targeted in their own homes by unscrupulous traders. Search online ‘Elderly Scams’ and you get thousands of news stories from all over the country. It can be heartbreaking for families to find that their elderly relative has fallen victim to a rogue trader who pressurised them or misled them into signing up to a completely inappropriate deal that cost over the odds. Continue reading “Guest blog – Jo Swinson MP”
In their consideration of the Energy Select Committee report onEnergy Prices, Profits and Fuel Poverty(published 29 July), the media focused on the opacity of the energy companies’ accounts, the lack of transparency, and the apparent weakness of the Regulator, Ofgem, in looking after consumers’ interests.
But the media failed to comment on the trenchant observations made by the Committee on fuel poverty. Here, the Government came in for a lot of flak. The Committee found it disappointing that so much of Government fuel poverty policy centres on short term help with bills when improving the thermal efficiency of the UK housing stock should be the priority. It commented on the hiatus in fuel poverty policy whilst thrashing out a new definition and a new approach, and observed that policy has effectively been frozen at a time when energy price rises have made energy costs increasingly unaffordable for vulnerable and low income households. Continue reading “Disarray in fuel poverty policy”
This blog was contributed by Barbara Limon, Policy Programme Manager – Consumer and Community.
Increasingly older people who are in receipt of funded social care are choosing to take this funding asdirect payments, meaning they control the funds themselves. Whilst there are advantages of being in control in this way we’ve found that the process of managing the cash could be made easier for older people.
Most of the problems we found are not new – they are simply the day to day difficulties which many older people experience in managing their money and paying for things. Solving the problems highlighted in the report would also solve many of the on-going difficulties older people have in relation to financial services. For example,Chip and PIN card technologyhas generally been considered a success, but the need to remember and type in a PIN can act as a barrier to independent use of payments. Continue reading “Making it easier to manage direct payments”
The Government has taken an important step forward in ensuring that financial services work for older people. It proposed an amendment to the Financial Services Act which, for the first time, gives the regulator a mandate not just to protect consumers, but also to ask whether consumers can access the products and services they need.