Age UK extended response to the CSR announcement
Published on 20 October 2010 05:00 PM
In response to today's Comprehensive Spending Review announcement, Age UK's Charity Director Michelle Mitchell said:
'We are hugely relieved that care budgets will not face the scale of cuts Age UK was fearing. However Age UK has examined the detail of the Chancellor's announcement on social care funding and we conclude that the purported "£2 billion additional funding" for social care in fact just replaces cuts he is simultaneously making to local government budgets. Over the four year period covered by CSR, we predict that spending on care will suffer a modest fall in real terms.
'The Government is also reducing the ring-fencing of budgets at local government level, so Age UK will be working with local campaigners to put pressure on councils to maintain their current levels of spending on care. The Department of Health has sent out an important signal that care funding should be prioritised and it is now up to local authorities to follow this lead.'
'We are delighted that universal entitlements for older people have been protected. Benefits such as the winter fuel payment and free bus pass are a lifeline for millions of the poorest older people, who will breathe a huge sigh of relief at this news. Only 2 per cent of pensioners are higher rate tax payers, so this is a cost effective way of targeting help to low and mid income groups.'
Cold weather payment
'Keeping the cold weather payment at £25 per week is very welcome. Cold weather payments are means-tested allowances which make a huge difference to many of the most vulnerable older people in times of very cold weather. They give people the confidence to turn up their heating when they need it the most rather than risking their health for fear of getting into debt. But with over 3.5 million older people living in fuel poverty, the government must now develop a new fuel poverty strategy which effectively tackles the root cause of the problem while supporting the poorest households.'
State pension age
'It is disappointing that the coalition has decided to delay the retirement of millions of hard-working people by bringing forward the increase in state pension age six years earlier than planned by the previous government. Fast-tracking the state pension age rise will hit the poorest the hardest by shortening the retirements of those living in areas where life expectancy is low. By moving the date forward, the government has denied those affected time to plan properly for a delayed retirement. However we appreciate that in the current climate difficult decisions have had to be made.'
Pension Credit - Savings Credit
'Savings credit provides a welcome income boost for 1.75 million older people* on a low income. In these times of austerity many people will be disappointed that the maximum amount has been frozen, meaning that the average claimant will miss out on around £100 per year.'
* includes pensioner couples and single pensioners, receiving either just the savings credit or a combination of savings credit and guarantee credit.
'While we welcome the increased investment in apprentices - including for mature workers - the decision to abolish Train to Gain will make it harder for older workers to access training. Despite its costs, this programme represented the main source of publicly funded training for people in their 50s. In line with the Government's aim to extend working lives, sufficient opportunities must be made available for older workers to upgrade their skills.'
Disabled Facilities Grant
'Protecting the Disability Facilities Grant at the current level is good news for older people who rely on the programme to adapt their home to allow them to continue living independently. However, cash strapped local authorities also make a contribution to this grant, so we may still see an overall reduction in the availability of adaptations for vulnerable older people. We would like to discuss with Government what more can be done to protect these vital services for disabled older people.'
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