Loneliness: As bad for you as 15 cigarettes a day

Today, Age UK launches a new campaign asking the Government to take action to tackle loneliness. Senior Campaigns Officer, Samantha Kennedy, explains why loneliness is a health problem for older people and how you can support the campaign.

Age UK Homepage No One Betty

No one should have no one, yet more than a million older people say they haven’t spoken to a friend, neighbour or family member for over a month. Continue reading “Loneliness: As bad for you as 15 cigarettes a day”

Age UK establishes commission on financial services

We are “woefully underprepared” for our ageing society. That was the conclusion of the House of Lords Select Committee chaired by Lord Filkin earlier in the year.

Central to that is the fact that people just aren’t saving enough for retirement and their later life.   New polling Age UK commissioned found that just under a quarter of people aged 50-64  –  those rapidly approaching state pension age  –  think there’s no point  saving.  Worryingly, that’s not because the majority have

Tom Wright, Chief Executive of Age UK and Co-Chair of the Financial Services Commission
Tom Wright, Chief Executive of Age UK and Co-Chair of the Financial Services Commission

already made provision for their future.  More than a quarter said they were worried about having enough to live on. Only 15 per cent thought they had saved enough already.

We also frequently hear from older people about the problems they face with money matters, and the lack of solutions that really work for older people. While auto-enrolment is a massive step forward, it will not have time to reap its full benefits for people close to retirement.

That’s why we’re launching the Financial Services Commission – which will be co-chaired by Tom Wright CEO of Age UK and Dr Alexander Scott of the Chartered Insurance Institute. Launching on December 5th, it will be take the form of a series of three summits in which we will work with key industry leaders and consumer experts to examine how to improve the “financial resilience” of older people – their ability to weather the challenges that might lie ahead. It will culminate in June next year with the publication of a roadmap of actions that regulators, government and industry need to take to help keep future and current pensioners financially resilient. Continue reading “Age UK establishes commission on financial services”

Green Deal performing poorly

At the heart of Age UK’s Warm Homes Campaign lies the conviction that the best way to insulate people from remorseless increases in energy costs and the health risks posed by cold homes is a major house refurbishment programme. The Green Deal was intended to drive that work – and upgrade 4m homes by 2020 – but the six month figures for the scheme are hapless, and we see no room for optimism any time soon.

As of mid-October, there are 219 Green Deal schemes in operation. True, there is a upstream pipeline of house surveys completed and Green Deal plans in preparation, but older householders seem rather underwhelmed. Whilst one in ten say their homes were not warm enough last winter and they would benefit from improved energy efficiency measures, 70% said they would not want a550x280_thermostat_lady Green Deal. The most frequently cited reasons were aversion to debt, and seeing the ‘loan’ repayment scheme as too expensive.   Continue reading “Green Deal performing poorly”

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”

Age-friendly financial capability

This blog was contributed by Barbara Limon, Programme Manager – Private Sector, at Age UK. 

The Money Advice Service, the statutory body responsible for financial capability is currently developing a new strategy for the UK.  But just what does an age-friendly financial capability strategy look like?

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.200x160_money

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”

Age UK’s Economic Tracker: many in their early 50s fear losing their home

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)Pensioner income

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.

Read more about the impact of the economy on the financial well-being of older people 

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