Growing old should be a positive and fulfilling experience. No-one should fear old age because of worries about their living standards, or be left to struggle alone caring for a loved one.
Too many older people today are worried about how they will ensure decent living standards in old age, and about how they and their family will manage when they need extra care.
Our social care system is close to collapse with 300,000 fewer older people getting vital care services compared to 2010, and many older people often receiving care visits limited to just 15 minutes — and provided by a workforce that is too often undervalued.
Stockton pensioners’ living standards have been hit hard by the Tories’ refusal to act against rip-off energy bills and pension charges, while social care funding has been slashed.
Here is how we will ensure older people’s living standards are protected, and that they get the care and support they deserve:
Labour will protect pensioners’ living standards
- We will keep the triple-lock on the state pension so that pensioner incomes increase by inflation, earnings or 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest.
- We will restrict winter fuel payments for the richest five per cent of pensioners but guarantee no changes beyond this — to the winter fuel payment, free TV licenses, or free bus passes.
- We will reform the private pensions market so that all pension providers have a fiduciary duty to put savers first.
- We will keep the flexibility over how to access your pension savings that came into place this April, but we need to ensure that savers get a good deal. That is why we will cap fees and charges in financial products that savers use to draw down their pension savings, and we will ensure that proper guidance is available to ensure that savers are not ripped off, or hit by scams and mis-selling.
- Help pensioners struggling with energy bills by freezing gas and electricity prices until 2017.
- Offer free efficiency improvements to at least 200,000 households at risk of fuel poverty.
Labour will support people in their older age
- We will end time-limited, 15-minute visits, introducing ‘year of care’ budgets to incentivise better care in the home.
- We will recruit 5,000 new homecare workers — a new arm of the NHS — to help care for those with the greatest needs at home.
- We will create new rights to receive care in the home. Our plans include supporting more people to remain at home at the end of their life if they wish, including those who are terminally ill with the greatest care needs.
- We will introduce a system of safety checks to identify risks facing vulnerable older people and enable preventative measures to be put in place, such as grab-rails to prevent falling.
- Vulnerable older people, disabled people and those with complex needs will get a single point of contact for their care and a personal care plan designed with them and shaped around their needs.
- We support measures to cap the costs of care and we will prioritise improving the quality of care services.
- We will tackle workforce exploitation in the care sector. We will ban the use of zero-hours contracts where regular hours are being worked, improving the working life of carers.
- We will improve support for carers. We will introduce a new duty on NHS organisations to identify carers so that they can be linked up with the right support, and we will ring-fence the money councils get for carers’ breaks to ensure this money gets spent on carers.