Age UK responds to Spending Review announcements
Published on 26 June 2013 05:00 PM
On Wednesday, the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced the Government's latest spending review, which will see further cuts of £11.5bn to government spending in 2015-16.
Age UK Charity-Director General, Michelle Mitchell, responds, commenting on how this will affect older people.
On funding social care
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General said:
'We are pleased that the Government has recognised the extent of the care crisis and in difficult economic times has decided to ease the burden on the health & social care system by investing in better integrated services.
'Age UK has long argued that poor social care results in avoidable additional costs to the NHS because of delayed discharges and preventable hospital admissions.
'This investment must reach frontline social care services if it is to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable older people.
'Local authorities, who provide the lion's share of social care services, are facing budget cuts of another 10%, so the Government must ensure that today's announcement is not just used to plug the hole in council budgets.
'Better integration between health and social care is the right approach, but the social care system is on the verge of collapse due to a perfect storm of an ageing population and local authority spending cuts.
'Whilst the population of over 85s has risen by 8% since 2010, £810 million less in real terms has been spent on social care services for older people.'
On the proposed cap to the AME budget
In response to Government placing a cap on the annually-managed expenditure (AME) budget which includes pensioner benefits, Michelle Mitchell, Age UK's Charity Director General, said
'Benefits such as pension credit and housing benefit are a vital lifeline to low income pensioners, providing millions of older people with an acceptable income level.
Yet with 1.6 million older people living below the poverty line, any future cuts to these benefits will deal a sharp blow to the poorest and most vulnerable pensioners, who have very few options to increase their incomes, and are likely to increase pensioner poverty.'
On winter fuel payments
In response to Government plans to reduce winter fuel payments to older people living abroad, Michelle Mitchell, Age UK's Charity Director General, said:
'The winter fuel payment is an important income boost for many people on a low state pension, providing a lifeline to many vulnerable older people and allowing them to worry less about their fuel bills.
Winter fuel payments are simple to understand and generally do not need to be claimed, avoiding the complexity of means-testing.
While the introduction of a temperature test could allay concerns about ex-pats in hot countries receiving the payment, it is important that proposals for change do not complicate the system or result in those in need losing out.'