News and views for older people July 2021
Our latest roundup of news affecting seniors includes the future of social care and caring; banks and fraud protection; funeral plan clarity, and next year’s pension rises.
Carers are caring more
Over 80% of carers say they have been providing more support recently than before the pandemic, yet the support they rely on has diminished, according to a new survey by Carers Week. Many carers, including those who are also trying to juggle paid work with their caring responsibilities, report being exhausted, have not had any breaks during the pandemic, and are stressed and anxious. Carers Week recommends that to support carers in the future there must be increased funding for breaks; better funding for social care; a supportive healthcare system; care-friendly employment; and an end to carer financial hardship.
Where now for social care?
Since the Prime Minister promised to ‘fix social care’ nearly two years ago, two million requests for formal care services from adults over 18 have been rejected, according to analysis for the Care and Support Alliance, The pandemic has exacerbated the problem, with Age UK reporting that being stuck at home for long periods, largely immobile and without the stimulation of company, is demonstrably accelerating and intensifying some older people’s need for care. A review by leading charities has found that a million people over 65 in the UK are likely to remain at risk of chronic loneliness despite the easing of coronavirus restrictions. This in turn can lead to with an increased risk of early death.
The new Health and Care Bill was introduced in Parliament on 6th July, proposing a more integrated healthcare system in England. There are plenty of positive ideas in the bill, which aims to make the health service less bureaucratic, more accountable, and capable of providing joined-up care with local authorities. Measures could include moving more services into the community, and focusing on preventative healthcare. On the downside, there is some concern that the Bill gives more power to the Secretary of State to influence and control the operation of the NHS.
In the latest update – 20 July 2021 – Boris Johnson has decided todelay social care reform decisions until the autumn, on the basis that three of the key figures in the discussion are currently self-isolating.
Hywel Dda University Health Board, in partnership with Dementia UK, is launching a new nursing service to support carers of people living with dementia in Wales. The service will be delivered by specialist Admiral Nurses to provide practical and emotional support.
Banks and fraud protection
Experts are warning that banks are not doing enough to protect older people – and especially those with dementia – from fraudsters. They are calling for ‘second party notification’ or a delay on transfers to new payees. As yet, though, there seems to be little interest from the banks in such measures. Money Mail found that Barclays and Nationwide are considering introducing a system where customers could nominate a loved one to receive a text alert when making payments or bank transfers over a certain amount, with permission from the customer.
Clarity on funeral costs
New rules for funeral plan providers will include a cold-calling ban and the end of commission payments to intermediaries such as financial advisers or funeral directors. There will also be new advertising standards, aimed at ensuring funeral pre-payment plans are sold fairly. The measures are due to come into effect in summer 2022. From that time unhappy funeral plan customers will be able to apply to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or make a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman.
Value of Vitamin D
The importance of Vitamin D to a healthy body continues to be topic of interest. Now evidence suggests that lack of vitamin D can lead to more hospitalisations due to Covid-19, but isn’t linked to greater mortality rates.
Bumper state pension ahead?
Retired people could see what’s being described as a ‘bumper’ rise in the state pension next year, as it’s predicted to rise by 8% from April 2022. While there are calls for the triple lock, on which pension rises are based, to be challenged, others point out that UK state pensions are still less generous than in much of Europe. The triple lock means that the state pension rises in line with whichever is the highest: cost of living as recorded by the Consumer Price Index; increasing average wages; or 2.5%. It’s a government promise that the lock will stay in place until at least 2024, but that was pledged before the pandemic, which has skewed the measurements used. Final word will go to the Chancellor though, who has been hinting that the 8% rise won’t happen.
Free TV licences to end imminently
The BBC’s grace period for a free television licence for the over 75s, prompted by the pandemic, ends on 31 July 2021. The BBC said that at the end of June the vast majority of those who need to make arrangements to hold a licence have done so, and it would be writing to the remaining 260,000 with information about the next steps.
Read more about financial news for older people with July 2021’smoney management update.