Million elderly Brits malnourished as third of councils cut ‘meals on wheels’ service

A third of all UK councils have scrapped ‘meals on wheels’ services to their elderly and vulnerable residents due government to spending cuts, putting senior citizens at risk of malnutrition and social isolation, research showed.

Over half expect further service reductions in the year ahead. A study by the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition claims more than one million older people in the UK are malnourished.

The total number of meals provided by UK meals on wheels services and lunch clubs has dropped from 40 million to 19 million meals over the past ten years.

Half of all local authorities in the UK expect even further service reductions in the year ahead because social care budgets are being tightened and funding is being slashed, according to the National Association of Care Catering.

The Association says tens of thousands of elderly people living alone rely on the delivery of regular meals for nutrition, social interaction and safety checks.

The NACC National Chair, Neel Radia, said: “The Community Meals Service is a crucial preventative service that enables older people to live in their own homes for longer, whilst maintaining their physical and emotional wellbeing and reducing pressure on the NHS.”

“The abolition of community meals services is incredibly short-sighted and cuts a lifeline for many older people who can face social isolation and loneliness,” Radia added.

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Conservative Think Tank at Tory party conference-: Cut pensioner benefits ‘immediately’

Ministers should waste no time to make unpopular cuts to pensioner benefits, a think tank director has said.

Many of those hit by a cut to the winter fuel allowance might “not be around” at the next election, said Alex Wild of the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

And others would forget which party had done it, he added.

At the group’s meeting at the Conservative conference in Manchester, former defence secretary Liam Fox said spending cuts must be “for keeps”.

Mr Wild said the Tories could not wait until a year before the next election to make the necessary cuts to the winter fuel allowance, free bus passes, the Christmas bonus and other pensioner benefits.

Mr Wild, who is research director of the think tank which campaigns for lower taxes and highlights examples of Government waste, said the cuts should be made “as soon as possible after an election for two reasons”.

“The first of which will sound a little bit morbid – some of the people… won’t be around to vote against you in the next election. So that’s just a practical point, and the other point is they might have forgotten by then.”

He added: “If you did it now, chances are that in 2020 someone who has had their winter fuel cut might be thinking, ‘Oh I can’t remember, was it this government or was it the last one? I’m not quite sure.’

“So on a purely practical basis I would say do it immediately. That might be one of those things I regret saying in later life but that would be my practical advice to the government.”

95-year-old’s FOUR-hour wait for ambulance laying on floor then FOUR-AND-A-HALF hours to see doctor

A 95-YEAR-old woman was left lying in agony on the floor with a broken hip for more than four hours waiting for an ambulance – and then had to wait a further four-and-half hours to see a doctor at hospital.

Alma Gaffing fell and broke her hip at the Grimsby Grange and Manor Care Home, based on the Nunsthorpe estate.

Five separate 999 calls were made as care home staff and family members waited impatiently for an ambulance to arrive.

The incident happened at 10.30pm, yet Alma, who suffers with dementia, did not arrive at A&E at Grimsby’s Diana, Princess Of Wales Hospital until 2.45am.

The appalling death of a man caught up in benefits nightmare

On the day of his death, a letter arrived at his rented home confirming he was now the subject of court action from his local authority seeking recovery of an £800 debt he had repeatedly said he could not pay. His bank balance stood at £50.

A coroner ruled this week that Mr Burge, who like his father before him had worked tending the graves at the City of London Cemetery, committed suicide after a 50 per cent cut in his housing benefit left him ensnared in bureaucracy and begging for help from Newham Borough Council, which was in turn engulfed by its caseload.

The inquest heard this week that shortly before his death, Mr Burge had written to Newham Borough Council saying: “I can’t remember the last time I had £800 in my possession. I have no savings or assets. I’m not trying to live. I’m trying to survive.”

In his final letter to the local authority, which received no reply, he said: “I’m now more stressed, depressed and suicidal than any of my previous letters.”

After receiving ten separate demands for payment, Mr Burge wrestled with a Kafkaesque telephone system which kept him on hold until an automated voice told him to consult a website he had no idea to access. With legal threats gathering and seemingly caught in a bureaucratic limbo, the gardener, who had at times battled depression in his life, took the decision to drive himself to a much-loved location and take his life in the most harrowing circumstances.His nephew, Paul Higdon, told The Independent: “My uncle was the kind of man who wrote his correspondence by hand. He used carbon paper to make copies. He told Newham he was feeling stressed and suicidal. What he received in return were pro forma letters or silence.

“Clearly he wasn’t capable of using the internet or navigating phone systems. We have moved into a digital age but in so doing we have left a lot of people behind. There are human beings at the receiving end of these decisions and the council did not respond appropriately.”

The death of Mr Burge fits into a wider picture of concern about what happens when vulnerable individuals come into contact with the benefits system, whether via local authorities or government agencies.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) acknowledged this week that it has reviewed 49 cases where employment benefit recipients were “sanctioned” – having their payments stopped for a period of weeks or months after failing to comply with the rules – and subsequently died.

They included David Clapson, 59, a former soldier and diabetic who was found dead in his home last July after his benefits were slashed and he did not apply for hardship payments. He had no food in his stomach and no credit on the electricity card needed to keep going the fridge that stored his insulin. His bank balance was £3.44.

* For confidential support call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or visit a local Samaritans branch – see for details.

Elderly and disabled ‘could lose bus services’

Elderly and disabled passengers could lose vital bus services because of cuts in government funding, councils in England warn.

The Local Government Association (LGA) says support for the concessionary fares scheme has been reduced by over a third since 2010.

Under the scheme, councils have to provide free off-peak travel for those aged over 62 or disabled.

The government says it provides funding to meet subsidised travel costs.

Local authorities say the funding from central government for concessionary fares has been cut by £261m since the coalition came to power.

Now councils say they are forced to subsidise the scheme, often by cutting back on other local transport services. It is a particular problem for county councils trying to provide relatively expensive rural bus routes and school transport.Some authorities are now stripping back rural bus timetables, or cancelling free travel for elderly and disabled passengers during peak hours.

Free home-to-school transport is also under threat in several areas.

Leicestershire’s Conservative councillor with Cabinet responsibility for transport, Peter Osborne, said: “The local government spending squeeze means what is required by law is undeliverable unless county councils put in extra subsidy. Is it fair that a ratepayer is subsidising what government should be paying for in the first place?”

Oxfordshire, Cumbria, Somerset, Dorset and Buckinghamshire are also looking at ways to reduce the cost of their local bus routes. Their plans involve a mixture of cutting school buses and withdrawing less popular routes, the LGA said.

Councils say the problem compounded by the fact that demand is increasing. The ageing population means that a third of all bus journeys are by the 10 million older and disabled people who receive concessionary bus passes.

Councils are increasingly looking for alternatives to regular scheduled buses – particularly for the more remote villages. Some authorities are promoting car sharing schemes and “dial a ride” community transport services.

Councillor Peter Box of Wakefield, who chairs the LGA’s Economy and Transport Board, said: “The concessionary fares provide a lifeline for our most vulnerable residents…but it is now under real threat.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said: “We know that bus services are vital for many older and disabled people. That is why the right to free travel is enshrined in law, and government provides funding to meet the cost of subsidising offpeak travel for these groups. In addition, the Department for Transport provides funding to bus operators to help more services run and keep ticket prices down. The current level of this funding is protected until 2015/16.”

from the BBC News:

Iain Duncan Smith targets poor pensioners with plans to scrap free bus passes and winter fuel allowance

Iain Duncan Smith tonight stepped up the Tory war on the poor by turning his sights on society’s most vulnerable.

The penny-pinching Work and Pensions Secretary wants to slash winter fuel allowances for pensioners and scrap their free bus passes and TV licences in a move that would spell misery for millions of people.

His cruel cuts could mean OAPs having to choose between heating their homes or eating as they lose up to £300 in cold weather payments.

And the over-75s would also have to fork out £145 for TV licences.

Mr Duncan Smith’s move finally destroyed any claim the party had to being caring Conservatives.

And it flies in the face of David Cameron’s election pledge to rule out cuts to pensioner ­benefits.

Mr Duncan Smith, whose flagship Universal Credit policy is in chaos, said the Government was discussing whether to put OAP payments into a wider Whitehall cap on welfare spending.

He revealed today: “We need maximum flexibility with the cap. Pretty much all existing ringfences will have to disappear.”

Shadow Chief ­Secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie said: “There are clearly major divisions within the Government over whether to cap pensioner benefits.

“One minute Downing Street are ruling it out and the next Iain Duncan Smith is ruling it in. It is time for the Government to come clean over what exactly they are going to do with pensioner benefits.”

Mr Duncan Smith’s move will also pile pressure on Mr Cameron to again rule out cuts to pensioner welfare.

The proposed spending cap was announced by George Osborne last year and will be formally set in the Budget later this year. At that time, the Chancellor will also set out which benefits will be included in it.

It will include most welfare payments – including housing benefit, tax credits and income support, Treasury sources said last night. But it will not include pensions or Job Seekers’ Allowance.

Age UK predicts 200 pensioner deaths PER DAY this winter. Is Iain Duncan Smith happy now?

Mike Sivier's blog

It is hard not to imagine Iain Duncan Smith salivating at the thought that 200 pensioners a day might die of the cold this winter.

Pensions are the most expensive part of the State benefit bill, taking up more than half of his budget. With the state pension at £110.15, he stands to save £137,467,200 per year, without having to lift a finger. The energy companies will get the blame, with soaring bills making it impossible for senior citizens to heat their homes.

This is a much better deal, even than the one he engineered with Employment and Support Allowance, in which at least 73 people have been dying every week because of poverty-related health or mental health problems brought on by DWP decisions, ; people on ESA for longer than 13 weeks get £100.15 per week, meaning a saving of only £380,169.40 per year.

Make no mistake – any…

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