13 June 2007

Our Twilight Years

28% of elderly people say their lives have got worse in the last year and 93% say their lives have not improved, according to a landmark report from Help the Aged, in which the charity calls for:

    Help The Aged: Spotlight Report 2007: Spotlight on older people in the UK
  • a clear commitment to ending pensioner poverty;
  • a new Government strategy of paying benefits automatically to older people  on the basis of information it already holds on them;
  • public bodies to promote age equality in the same way they promote race, disability and gender equality;
  • a ban on age discrimination, extending beyond the workplace, in the forthcoming Single Equalities Bill;
  • a greater focus on health, more opportunities for activity and employment and better planning for the future.
As I noted in a recent exchange with Ruth about pensioner poverty, it is a scandal both that almost two in three pensioners are now caught by the welter of Gordon Brown's means-tested benefits and that around half of them fail to claim the benefits they are entitled to. Therefore the charity's Director of Policy is surely right when he says, "Far from being people's twilight years, this report shows that life for older people in the UK is much darker." However, I have to wonder what proportion of the population at large, not just the elderly, believe their lives have not improved and have in fact got worse in the last year.

Perhaps I should have titled this post NuLabour's Twilight Years?


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that seeing actual improvement in life year-on-year is a realistic goal for those whose health is more likely to be failing, who are more likely to be bereaved by friends dying, and all the difficulties that come with old age. But these difficulties make it all the more pressing that elderly people are properly looked after.

The government is being scandalously negligent - from making benefits too complicated to claim, to scrapping tax relief on pensions for those who are in a position to provide for themselves in old age. Gordon Brown is a short-sighted leader and we are all going to pay the price.