The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has called for further action from the Welsh and UK Governments to support older people and protect their health and well-being as we face another hugely difficult winter due to the cost-of-living crisis.
Publishing a briefing paper that examines the impact of spiralling living costs on older people, the Commissioner has warned that without further support to protect older people’s health and well-being, we will see an increased need for care and support, unnecessary hospital admissions and, in some cases, preventable deaths.
The Commissioner is calling for action from the Welsh Government to tackle wider determinants of poverty, expand programmes to improve the energy efficiency of older people’s homes, ensure older people are claiming all of the financial support they are entitled to, and remove barriers to accessing wider support such as the Discretionary Assistance Fund.
The Commissioner is also calling for the Welsh Government to provide funding to community groups and charities to deliver support to older people, both in their own homes and in community venues, to make sure they don’t miss out on nourishing food and opportunities for social interaction, and has identified a number of ways local authorities should support wider community-based action, in particular through identifying and reaching out to older people who may need help.
In addition, the Commissioner has also called on the UK Government to take action to deliver longer-term, structural change to ensure that the State Pension and other financial entitlements keep pace with rising costs and inflation and provide a sufficient level of income for older people which must be delivered at a UK level.
This includes calling for a commitment to deliver the State Pension ‘triple lock’ for 2023-24 and beyond, introducing ‘auto-enrolment’ within the Pension Credit system, and reviewing and upgrading the Winter Fuel Payment, recognising the decrease in its real terms value since it was introduced.
The Commissioner has also called for a comprehensive review of the level of the State Pension to ensure it provides older people with the income they need.
Alongside calling for further action, the Commissioner is continuing to highlight and promote the financial support available to older people, as many are still missing out on money that could make a significant difference, such as Pension Credit, which is worth £58 a week on average to those who claim.
The Commissioner will also continue to engage with older people to hear directly from them about their experiences to make sure their voices are heard and that policy- and decision-makers understand the realities of living through the cost-of-living crisis as an older person.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE said:
“The cost-of-living crisis is having a significant impact throughout society, and older people are being particularly badly affected, which is why it is crucial that older people receive all of the financial support they are entitled to.
“The support that has been announced at a Wales and UK level is welcome, but given that energy price rises in October and the New Year are projected to be far higher than expected, with suggestions that up to 40% of households could enter fuel poverty in the autumn, further action is needed to support older people in the months ahead.
“Without this action, the health and well-being of thousands of older people throughout Wales will be at significant risk due to illness or physical conditions caused by cold housing and/or poor nutrition, or the stress and anxiety caused by worrying about their finances.
“This will lead to more older people needing care and support, unnecessary hospital admissions and, in some cases, preventable deaths.
“That’s why it’s crucial that the Welsh and UK Governments deliver the action I am calling for to ensure older people have the support they need as we face another hugely difficult winter.”
ENDSRead the Commissioner's Briefing