The Queen’s Speech – will social care be included?

Photo by Michael Garnett licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

At Age UK we will be listening very carefully to the Queen’s Speech to see if social care is mentioned and, if it is, what precisely is said. We sincerely hope that an intention to bring forward proposals for consultation will be stated, signifying that this new Government intends to press on with the Green Paper that was already underway before the General Election campaign began.

Continue reading “The Queen’s Speech – will social care be included?”

Queen’s Speech 2015

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There were few surprises in this year’s Queen’s Speech which sets out the Government’s to do list for this parliament.  As always, we await further details as the full Bills and proposals are published.  A number of welcome plans were announced, mostly representing a continuation of promises made before the General Election –increasing investment into the NHS by £8bn a year by 2020, a seven-day NHS and increased integration of health and social care.

The Government also reconfirmed its manifesto commitment to maintain the triple lock for the basic state pension for the remainder of this Parliament, and to continue to protect Winter Fuel Payments, free bus passes, TV licences and free prescriptions for pensioners. Continue reading “Queen’s Speech 2015”

The Queen’s Speech – What was good and what was missing

Photo by Michael Garnett licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

The changes to the private pensions system were the big announcements affecting older people in this year’s Queen’s Speech, bringing into effect the shake-up of the annuities regime that was announced in the Budget in March.

While these measures, if done properly, are very welcome, the Government missed a big opportunity to introduce legislation to protect more vulnerable older people from abuse, and to seriously address cold homes, which over a million older people are estimated to find themselves in every year.

Continue reading “The Queen’s Speech – What was good and what was missing”

Queen announces landmark legislation for older people

We have repeatedly called for improvements to the pensions system and for urgent changes to the shambles that passes for our system of social care and today in the Queen’s Speech two of our proverbial buses arrived at once. The speech contained two pieces of landmark legislation: A Bill to simplify the legislative framework and funding of social care, and a Bill introducing a flat rate State Pension. Both these measures are very much welcomed by Age UK.

440x210_queens_speech_2012_copyright_uk_parliament_flickr_May2012Improving the care and support system in England is long overdue. The complexity of the legal framework, the raft of regulations to plug gaps and the confusion many people experience when trying to navigate the existing care system tells us that care and support need reform. The Care Bill is a vital part of the changes that are necessary. However the current and future funding of adult social care is likely to be the elephant in the room throughout the progress of this Bill. Social care funding has declined by £710 million in real terms since the Government came to power in 2010. This is at the same time as the population of over 85, who are most likely to need social care, continues to rise. Budgets are falling while demand is rising. Continue reading “Queen announces landmark legislation for older people”

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”

60 Years of Birthday Greetings

The DWP sees itself as the lead Government department on older people.   With a quirky newsrelease (29 May), it sought to link its work on pensions with the Diamond Jubilee, and issued a story entitled ‘Pensioners Change the Face of Britain over the Queen’s Reign’.   So no lack of bureaucratic artiface there, despite Steve Webb’s customary whimsical supportive commentary.

A killer fact is that there are around 13,120 centenarians today compared with 300 in 1952.   The Queen has sent around 110,000 telegrams and messages to centenarians during her reign.   A case of royal writers’ cramp – a case for a quick appeal to fund a new fountain pen and plentiful supply of ink for the years ahead?   We are living a decade longer than our peers in 1952, but only in the last six years or so have we begun to remodel our state pension scheme to reflect our changed society, and only then at a glacial speed.

Beveridge left us a legacy of a flat-rate state pension, designed with the limited ambition of protecting older people from poverty, and based on a model where men worked and paid contributions, with their wives (who worked at home unpaid, and to whom they remained loyally married all their lives) would share if they were widowed.   With a few tweaks, that model remained right into this century.   It is to the credit of the last and present Government that we have seen that model change – if modestly.  Continue reading “60 Years of Birthday Greetings”

The Queen’s Speech

This blog was contributed by Camilla Williamson, Public Affairs Adviser in Age UK’s Public Affairs team.

In advance of the Queen’s Speech Age UK was clear that the most important single element for older people was the social care bill. While a draft bill on social care is some progress, the announcement of legislation now would obviously have been far better. Social care is in crisis – the system is chronically under funded and in urgent need of reform. Without this, too many older and disabled people will be left in desperate circumstances: struggling on alone, many living in misery and fear. With a predicted increase in demands on the system, this situation is only likely to worsen. It is therefore vital that the Government ensures that following the consultation on the draft bill, legislation to reform social care, alongside funding reform, is introduced as a matter of urgency.

On other matters related to people in later life, we were pleased by the announcement of a Pensions Bill to reform the State Pension, creating a fair, simple and sustainable foundation for private saving. We welcome the proposals of the single-tier pension and are very supportive of the aims. However, as proposed, current pensioners would not benefit from any improvements to state pensions. The Government must not forget the 1.8 million older people who are in poverty now.

The Financial Services Bill offers the opportunity to ensure the financial services industry provides safe, fair and accessible products and we believe the Bill should be strengthened to ensure the FCA and Government have the tools they need to address market failure and establish a marketplace in which firms compete to provide all types of consumer with the products and services they need.

The Government also announced a Small Donations Bill which will provide a top-up payment similar to Gift Aid to charities that receive small cash donations of £20 or less, enabling them to claim 25p for every £1 collected in the UK, on up to £5,000 of small donations. This will make a particular difference to smaller local Age UKs and Age UK friends, which as independent charities rely on these kinds of donations to help them to provide a range of support to people in later life.

Find out more about how the legislative programme relates to people in later life

Read our full government and stakeholder briefing