In this week’s news we look at the fall in bank branches and ATMs; property, pensions and retirement income; cost of living in privately rented property; latest figures on scams; growing complaints about abuse of Lasting Power of Attorney; eggs and heart disease; and day surgery shake-ups in NI.
Age and the cashless society
Who will struggle in the much-heralded cashless society? Last week we reported on a study that found it’s not so much older people as those on low incomes that will face new challenges in a digital banking world. But now a new report says that three-quarters of those aged 55-plus have never used mobile banking apps, and one in four have never used online banking via a PC. On the other hand, this banking habits survey from management consultants Accenture found that only 7% of those aged over 55 visit a branch, with that number falling. Many over 55s were reported as open to training in-branch for greater digital skills.
We have two comments on this. One is that defining an age group of over 55s isn’t that helpful, as that can cover two generations with widely different habits and opinions. We also think that the fall in use of branches may be something to do with the number of branches that the banks have been closing. Which? has just reported that Scotland alone has lost a third of bank branches in just eight years, with ATMs also closing.
Campaign for free personal care
Independent Age has started a campaign for free personal care, arguing that over a million older people in England are being left without the care they need. The organisation wants people to ask their local politicians to sign up to the pledge. You can use their website to find your councillors.
Property and retirement
We’ve a new article this week about becoming an ‘unexpected landlord’, when you take over the running of a property for an older relative or you decide to rent out a property you’ve inherited.
You might like a couple of other interesting articles we’ve found around property and retirement:
- A potential lifeline has been thrown to those who are nearing the end of interest-only mortgages and don’t know how they are going to pay back what they owe. The Financial Services Authority has given the go-ahead to ‘retirement interest-only’ mortgages, says The Guardian.
- Investment specialists Hargreaves Lansdowne lays out the benefits and drawbacks of pensions vs property in saving for retirement
Call for more controls for older renters
If you are a landlord or planning to be, you may be interested in another campaign from the charity Independent Age, which wants more controls over privately rented property to help those living in poverty or unsuitable homes. Many older people live in privately rented accommodation, and according to the charity, they are ignored by policymakers. Its report says that 32% of older renters feel their accommodation isn’t suitable for their needs. Many cite cold and damp as a problem. A third of private renters over 65 are said to be living in poverty – a higher proportion than those living in other types of accommodation. Almost 40% have paid for adaptations to the home themselves, says the report. The charity wants local rent controls, sufficient social housing to meet the needs of older people, and new homes built that are fit for purpose for older people.
Latest scam news
It’s hard to keep up with the ways that scammers will find to relieve individuals of their cash. Moneywise reports that fraudsters have tricked victims into handing over £354 million in bank transfer scams in the last year, with banks refunding less than a quarter of lost money. A movement called ‘Take Five to Stop Fraud’ has a useful downloadable guide to recognising bank fraud.
We’ve also seen reports of increasingly sophisticated fraudulent messages purporting to come from the people you would expect to be able to trust, such as the police and local authorities talking about council tax.
With the rapid growth and sophistication of scams, just listing the latest might not help our elders. That said, it may well be worth your while signing up to local police newsletters on fraud, so you can keep a careful eye on your elders’ affairs.
We think the key message to pass on though is not to give bank and personal details to anyone online, over the phone or in person, unless you have contacted them through your own trusted channels.
Abuse of LPA powers increase
The government carried out almost 50% more investigations concerning abuse complaints regarding lasting powers of attorney (LPA) in 2018. Altogether, the Office of the Public Guardian received 5,245 claims that attorneys were abusing their donor’s finances last year, with 1,886 considered to be viable cases requiring further investigation.
Do eggs increase risk of heart disease?
Good egg, bad egg. The story of the egg has taken a downturn with reports in the media this week that eating eggs raises the possibility of heart disease. Going behind the headlines, it turns out this is about a large, long-term study, that was observational rather than a full trial, with participants only asked once over the whole study about how many eggs they eat. That means that researchers can only show an association between eating eggs and heart disease, rather than a cause and effect. And as the British Heart Association points out, balance is everything, and eggs can be highly nutritious.
More day surgery shake-up in Northern Ireland
The Department of Health is planning to shake up day surgery across Northern Ireland, with thousands of routine operations transferred to ‘day case surgery hubs’. These hubs have been in use in Northern Ireland since last October, carrying out all planned surgeries for cataracts and varicose veins. Now, as part of a 10-year plan to improve waiting times, the centres will additionally offer general surgery, endoscopy, gynaecology, orthopaedics, ENT, urology, paediatrics, and neurology.