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General Election 2019

An age friendly Wales - Age Cymru’s vision for the next UK Government.

age friendly Wales

Ahead of the 12 December General Election, we're calling for the next UK Government to invest in older people and the services they need.

Wales has the highest proportion of older people in the UK, with 1 in 5 of the population aged 65 or over.

At this General Election we want to see every political party bring forward policies to help our older population, those in the greatest need above all, with the aim of enabling more people to enjoy the dignified, secure and fulfilling later life we all want for ourselves and those we love.

What older people need from the next UK Government

The next UK Government must address the unmet needs of older people in the following areas. Improving these issues will not only change the lives of older people but those of many in our society.

Many key areas that we know impact on older people in Wales such as health services, transport and housing are devolved to Wales. Our priorities for the General Election 2019 focus on non-devolved issues that are determined by UK Government.


Money

Man and woman in living room

Shockingly, 120,000 pensioners in Wales live in poverty, and it's estimated that there were 56,000 households in Wales inhabited by an older person that experienced fuel poverty in 2017-18. This is unacceptable and must be addressed.

For older people who are only just scraping by the rise of the State Pension Age and changes to Pension Credit are a serious and worrying issue.

The next UK Government must

  1. protect the value of the State Pension for current and future pensioners by retaining the triple lock and universal access to key benefits that help maintain health and wellbeing, such as the TV licence and winter fuel payments
  2. give early access to the State Pension for those who are within three years of their State Pension Age (SPA) and unable to work due to caring responsibilities or illness
  3. reverse this year’s change in Pension Credit rules that means that mixed-age couples can’t claim until the youngest partner reaches their SPA
  4. make fraud a national policing priority, with the resources to match and backed up by much more effective reporting and enforcement processes.

Loneliness

Lady looking sad

220,000 older people in Wales report that they have felt lonely during later life and 100,000 people aged 65 and over report speaking to three or fewer people they know. It’s an issue that we can’t ignore.

TV is much more than a ‘box in the corner’ for many older people. TV is the main form of companionship for two in five people aged 75. It also provides a precious window on the world.

Lots of older people have struggled throughout their working life to save a little extra for retirement. But that small pot of savings for a rainy day means they don't qualify for means-tested benefits. Others are coping with the costs of ill-health or disability. Taking their free TV licence away is a cruel blow.

Currently two in every five older people who are entitled to Pension Credit do not receive it. This means that only a small proportion of older households who currently get a free licence will continue to do so from June 2020. If the BBC is allowed to proceed with their plan it will make hundreds of thousands of our poorest pensioners choose between continuing to watch TV, by cutting back on other essentials, or giving it up altogether.

The next UK Government must

  1. work with the BBC to ensure that the free TV licence remains available for everybody aged 75 or over

Inclusion

Three people sitting around a table

Rights

As well as all of the above needs all older people's rights must be protected.

All older people should also have the right to work. Age discrimination in the labour market is commonplace and there are still too many examples of unfair upper age limits based on outmoded assumptions about older people’s lives or sometimes there simply for administrative convenience.

Access

Less than 50% of people aged 75 or over in Wales were internet users in 2018-2019. There is a serious risk that the trend to ‘digital by default’ will deny many older people services they need. For instance, the growing closure of bank branches and ATMS, with 43% of bank branches in Wales having closed since 2015.

The next UK Government must

  1. lead global efforts to create a UN Convention on the rights of older people, which would provide a framework to guide policy responses to ageing based on rights, equity and social justice in the UK and globally
  2. ensure every older person has continuing easy and free access to banking services and cash, wherever they live, including in rural areas.

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