Tory policies will deny homes to hundreds of thousands of pensioners and disabled people, warn housing chiefs

‘If this is not fixed, it could be really disastrous for large numbers of older and vulnerable people’

Hundreds of thousands of pensioners and disabled people will be denied the homes they badly need because of a “disastrous” Conservative policy, housing chiefs are warning.

A shortage of sheltered and supported housing is set to mushroom because of “crazy” funding rules that are shutting services and crushing investment, ministers have been told.

But the National Housing Federation (NFH) is alarmed that housing associations are now refusing to build them because the Government has thrown their future funding from rent into jeopardy. Its forecast is a staggering shortfall of 300,000 homes by 2030, of which 240,000 are sheltered properties needed by pensioners.

David Orr, the NHF’s chief executive, told The Independent: “If this is not fixed, it could be really disastrous for large numbers of older and vulnerable people. The providers of these homes are saying, ‘we can get the money, we can find the land, we know there’s a need, but the funding is too uncertain’.

“If vulnerable people are not able to live there, they will either be in inappropriate homes they find difficult to manage, or in residential nursing care – or in hospital. The cost to them will be great and the cost to the state will be enormous. The last thing the NHS needs is more people falling over and breaking hips because their accommodation doesn’t meet their needs.”

The crisis was described as a “ticking time-bomb” by the former chairman of a Commons select committee that investigated it as the general election was called. It has been triggered by a policy switch dubbed a “backdoor bedroom tax” when it was first revealed by The Independent last year.

From April 2019, housing benefit in all social housing will be capped at the level of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA), used in the private rented sector. Crucially, the LHA is calculated – like the removal of the “spare-room subsidy” – on the basis of household size, rather than the size of the property. That means a single person, or a couple, living in a two-bedroom home will have their housing benefit capped at the one-bedroom LHA rate.

The impact will be severe across the Midlands and the North, where lower private rents will mean a lower one-bedroom LHA rate, threatening tenants with huge benefit cuts. They would lose at least £300 a year if their homes are deemed to be “underoccupied”, but some pensioners in the North could be a staggering £1,700 a year worse off.

Mr Orr described the switch as “crazy and frustrating”, adding: “It makes no sense – and the select committees agreed with no dissent, no argument.”

The crisis is deepening according to evidence presented to the joint inquiry carried out recently by the Communities and Local Government and Work and Pensions committees.

They uncovered a string of housing associations slashing investment – and even cutting existing services – because of the looming changes. The Riverside Group said a number of developments were on hold, including one in Colchester for people leaving the armed forces and a scheme for older people in Rochdale.

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1.2 million UK people aged 65 and over do not receive the care and support they need

Age UK report calls for urgent action, including cash injection in spring budget and development of long-term plan The government has urged people to care for their ageing parents, to compensate for any social care inefficiencies. Photograph: Tomas Rodriguez/Getty Images/Picture Press RM Social care in England is at risk of imminent collapse in the worst […]

via English social care system for elderly facing ‘complete collapse’ : Guardian. — DWPExamination.

Pensioner who was jailed by a secret court can finally tell the story of how she tried to protect her brother because, shortly after these photographs were taken, he died

Pensioner who was jailed by a secret court can finally tell the story of how she tried to protect her brother because, shortly after these photographs were taken, he died Teresa Kirk defied order to bring brother Manuel back from Portugal care home Court of Protection jailed her for protecting Manuel, who had vascular dementia […]

via Touching picture of sibling devotion that was BANNED until now : Daily Mail. — DWPExamination.

THIRTEEN MILLION people face poverty in old age, new report : Express. — DWPExamination.

More than 13 million workers across Britain could be heading for a shortfall in the amount of pension they need for an adequate income, according to analysis. The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), which released the findings, said minimum contribution rates into workplace pensions should be increased to “at least” 12 per cent to […]

via THIRTEEN MILLION people face poverty in old age, new report : Express. — DWPExamination.

Tory pension changes leave women on £8 a week – we must stop this, says Labour MP

Labour’s Alex Cunningham says his party is committed to helping those women who made plans to retire under the previous timeline

Imagine reaching your retirement age only to find that it had been quietly pushed back.

This is the fate that has befallen 2.6 million women, born in the early 1950s who had expected to retire, only to find out at the last moment that their retirement age had moved.

How has this happened?

The Tory-led Coalition Government implemented a chaotic and confused shortened timetable to increase the state pension age.

These complicated changes were not properly communicated to the women affected.

Leaving them struggling to make new plans for a later retirement.

The Tories’ own former Pensions Minister Baroness Altman has described the move as a “massive failure in public policy.”

One of the women affected by the Tories’ changes described how she has been forced to live with a friend, with only £8 a week income, having to borrow money while worrying about how she might pay for basic medical treatment.

Poorest pensioners to lose hundreds of pounds a year in ‘new bedroom tax

Thousands of poorer pensioners will be hit by a new “bedroom tax”, despite the Government’s promises to protect the elderly from the hugely controversial benefit cuts.

They are poised to lose at least £300 a year because their homes will be deemed to be “underoccupied”, slashing their incomes or forcing them to move – away from family and friends, or to flats that are unsuitable for older people.

In some cases, the financial pain will be greater – one housing association has identified pensioners in part of the North who are set to lose a staggering £1,700 a year.

Over time, hundreds of thousands of pensioners will be affected by the little-noticed measure, which extends tough benefit restrictions in the private rented sector to council and housing association homes.

It has been condemned by Labour MP Frank Field, who told The Independent: “Having previously been protected from the viciousness of the bedroom tax, large numbers of poor pensioners now look set to have their living standards cut by the Government’s new strategy.

“My fear is that the great success over the past two decades in countering pensioner poverty could begin to unravel if this stealthy strategy goes ahead in its current form.”

And Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: “Imposing the cap on older tenants will not only cause them anxiety and distress, it is also pointless given the lack of affordable housing options available to them.

“It will create hardship without any significant financial gains for the Government.”

The original bedroom tax was one of the coalition government’s most controversial policies, cutting housing benefit for social housing tenants – but not pensioners – with spare rooms.

Ministers argued that forcing “underoccupying” households to move would free up larger homes for families living in cramped conditions, as well as save £465m a year.

However, it became clear that the vast majority had no smaller homes to move to and suffered steep benefit cuts. One woman confronted David Cameron, telling him: “People have died from the bedroom tax.

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Norfolk women wage war over increased state pension age

Women from the PAIN – WASPI Norfolk Group symbolically ‘chained’ themselves to the bandstand at Chapelfield Gardens, wearing garb reminiscent of the suffrage movement and holding signs saying: ‘I have my vote, now I want my pension!’

“It’s raining today but if we don’t get what we want it’ll be raining for 40 days and 40 nights,” Helen McDermott, a host on Mustard TV, said during a speech at the protest.

Changes in 1995 and 2011 to the state pension age mean women born on or after April 6, 1951 can expect to retire up to six years later than they had originally planned.

Some 45,000 women in Norfolk are affected by the decision. To add insult to injury, the protestors said, successive governments sent some women letters about the change in policy, but gave others no warning at all.

Protestors tell their side

Member Joy Waters:

“I became involved as soon as the law was changed and they increased the State Pension age for women, but I’ve been campaigning since sort of 2011.

“Some years ago I expected to retire at 60 and I’ve now got years to go. I’m still working part-time and I have grandchildren to look after. I’ve got two elderly parents in their late 80’s, which is a great blessing, but they both have a lot of health issues and could do with more help than I’m able to give them because I’m still working.

“We’re the generation that’s had the least opportunity to build up private pensions, we’ve had the least options, and we’ve been forced with the biggest increase.”

Member Pat Warwick:

“I was born in March 1954 and now I can’t get my pension until I’m 65, so if I had been born exactly one year earlier I would already have my pension now. They’re not even doing it in a fair way.

“The women in the Suffrage Movement had to fight for the justice they wanted, they had to fight to get the vote. Now we’ve got the vote and now we need our pensions.

“I’m now totally reliant on my husband for everything. I have to get money from him and I don’t have any independence in buying anything on my own. I’ve worked all my life and anything I had I earned and worked for. I shouldn’t have to depend on someone else.”

“The changes were implemented too quickly, too steeply and without adequate notification.

“The government waited 14 years before it started writing letters to women and some of these women still haven’t had a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions to say they’re losing up to £40,000 in their state pension benefit,” Debbie De Spon, protest organiser, said.

After working for decades, many of the protestors felt entitled to a standard pension. Some expressed concern at not being able to care for family members, such as parents or young grandchildren, because of the delayed retirement age.

There are also memories of past injustices; women weren’t allowed to join pension schemes until the 1990’s. Many protestors linked their anger surrounding pension changes to the fervour of the suffrage movement during the early 20th century.

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Heartbroken daughter claims mum was left with ammonia burns after ‘lying in own urine for eight days’ before dying

Furious Corrin Garland has lodged a complaint with care providers who were visiting her mother twice each day

A heartbroken daughter has claimed her vulnerable mother was left lying in a filthy bed, soaked in her own urine by carers before dying.

Elderly Margot Green was having visits by carers twice each day – but grieving daughter Corrin Garland says they let her mum down.

After days of struggle, Mrs Green, a grandmother from Taunton, Somerset, managed to pull her emergency alarm. She was rushed to a nearby hospital where stunned medics discovered she was covered in ammonia burns believed to be caused by urine.

And while doctors said she had an infection, she was too frail to undergo more tests. Four days later, on July 14, she died.

Now her 43-year-old daughter Corrin has lodged a complaint against her mum’s £35-a-week carers, claiming they did not care for her mum properly before her death

She also claims that Margot’s bed was covered in urine and faeces.

Corrin has lodged an official complaint to Way Ahead Care, who provided Margot with two half-hour visits every day. It was the responsibility of the carers to wash her, prepare her meals and make sure she was taking her medication.

Corrin, from Ilminster, Somerset, said: “When I saw the burns all over my mum’s body, I was horrified.

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Retirees who raid pensions will be blocked from state benefits

Retirees who purposefully exhaust their pension pots and fall back on the state will not be given means-tested benefits, the government has confirmed.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has clarified how it would deal with those who spend their pension and then expect the state to fund their retirement, which many were concerned would add extra pressure on taxpayers.

It has now confirmed that if someone spends or gives away their pension fund, the DWP will treat them as if they still have that pension fund when calculating entitlement to means-tested benefits. Individuals will have to tell DWP and their local authority, which pays out some benefits directly, that they have accessed their pension pots.

The DWP uses pension credit – which is used to top up the incomes of the poorest pensioners – to illustrate its point.

It said in a document: ‘Once you (or your partner) reach the qualifying age for pension credit, you are expected to use your pension(s) to help support yourself. If you choose not to buy an annuity after reaching the qualifying age for pension credit, an amount of ‘notional’ income will be taken into account when your benefit is worked out.

‘’Notional’ income (in this case) is an amount equivalent to the income you would have received if you had bought an annuity. If you take an income from your pension pot, the amount which will be taken into account when assessing your benefit will be the higher of the actual income or notional income. If you take a cash lump sum, this will be taken into account as capital.’

Andrew Tully, pensions technical director at MGM Advantage, said the DWP ‘could not be any clearer in how they will treat cases where people have either deliberately or unwittingly spending their pension pots and intend to fall back on means-tested benefits’.

‘We have a duty as an industry to make it very clear what the consequences of this are,’ he said. ‘But all of the responsibility rests with the individual to tell DWP and the local authority when they take money from a pension.

‘It seems clear to me people need to pause before raiding their pensions next month, and ensure they fully understand what the potential long-term consequences of doing so are.’


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Cold Homes Kill More People Than Alcohol, Road Accidents Or Drug Abuse, Research Claims

Living in a home that is too cold kills more people in England and Wales than road accidents, alcohol or drug abuse, new analysis has found.

The number of “cold homes” deaths in 2013 has been estimated at 7,400; nearly five times higher than deaths from road and road accidents (1,574), and more than carbon monoxide, fire and assault deaths combined.

It was also slightly more than the number who died from alcohol abuse (7,059).

Cold homes have killed 46,700 people in the UK last five years, the research from the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) revealed using official data.

A group of over 200 organisations backing the fuel poverty campaign Energy Bill Revolution are calling on the government to tackle this “silent killer” by spending more on energy efficiency in homes.

Its recent video, a spoof of ‘Let It Go’ from Disney’s Frozen called ‘Let Them Freeze’, went viral in February.

The research used Office of National Statistics (ONS), National Records of Scotland and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency information.

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