The government’s ambitious welfare reform strategy is at risk because of the speed and depth of the cuts imposed on Iain Duncan Smith’s work and pensions department, according to a leaked internal review.
The document reveals that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is struggling to meet “extremely challenging” demands for over £1bn of efficiency savings over the next two years and these pressures could disrupt plans to roll out benefits reforms.
Too crude an approach to future cuts would affect the quality and capacity of the DWP’s “public-facing” services to vulnerable pensioners, jobseekers and benefit claimants, it warns.
It is understood that separate internal DWP modelling shows that, as universal credit is expanded in the months before the general election next year, the cuts will diminish the department’s capacity to keep on top of rising customer demand in jobcentres and benefit offices.
“Mark Serwotka, the PCS union general secretary, said the review reflected staff fears that pensioners and vulnerable people would see services suffer as a result of cuts.”
“This again gives the lie to David Cameron’s pre-election claim that frontline services would be protected, and exposes the failings and cruelty of austerity. It is abundantly clear that DWP is unable to cope with these cuts and needs urgent investment to ensure sick, disabled and unemployed people get the support they need and deserve.”
The department intends to stop paying benefits into Post Office card accounts – basic cash accounts used by nearly 3 million people, including 1.5 million pensioners, many of whom do not have ordinary bank accounts. This could prove politically controversial because it would undermine the financial viability of rural post offices.
The card accounts are expensive and not flexible enough to handle universal credit benefit payments, the review says: “DWP recognise that there are wider cross-government considerations, such as maintaining the footfall and associated income in rural post offices. However, this is not for DWP to address by paying for products not needed and which for some people are not suitable.”
AN Exeter couple are leading the way in a campaign to stop the scrapping of free travel for pensioners using the city’s hospital bus service.
Miriam and David Leach from Pinhoe, are fighting stop Devon County Council axing the popular PR3 service to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital from the National Bus Pass Scheme.
A special return fare of £1.20 is being offered on the hospital bus instead.
Mr Leach, 73, is booked in for numerous appointments at the hospital over the next six months and Mrs Leach, 65, said it was important she accompany him
Mrs Leach said they were “amazed” by the county’s decision which she learned of through the Echo.
She said:“ It is disgraceful, the bus passes were given to eligible people to help with their travelling costs. The people who use this service, and for some people this is a frequent necessity, should not be penalised in this way.
“By using the bus service people are cutting down on vehicles entering Exeter with all the congestion and air pollution that this incurs.
At present any bus pass holder whose pass was issued in England can use their bus pass on Blackpool trams, but on 31st March 2014 only bus passes issued to Blackpool residents will be able to use their bus pass on them.
The renewed tram system has level boarding and step-free interiors and designated disabled/pushchair areas making them accessible to all. The frequent and reliable service connects passengers to all major leisure, retail and businesses along the 11 mile stretch of coastline.
With the fare for over 16 stops at £2.30 even if you have to pay it sounds a good deal to us. Or an all day saver also looks good value:
Blackpool all day saver
- Guidelines on how funding for new drugs is allocated may be changed
- ‘Wider societal benefits’ must be considered before medicine is prescribed
- Fear drugs aimed at older people might not be approved by watchdog
The elderly could be denied vital medicines under plans to change licensing of NHS drugs, experts have warned.
Guidelines on how funding for new drugs is allocated are due to be changed – meaning ‘wider societal benefits’ will have to be considered before the NHS is allowed to prescribe a medicine.
The changes could mean that drugs aimed at older people might not be approved by the health watchdog NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), pharmaceutical firms have claimed.
Experts fear drugs aimed at younger people could take preference under the proposed changes because some argue they are able to contribute more to society than older people or those who are retired. Other factors due to be considered are the cost of new medications and their life-enhancing properties.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2536936/Elderly-denied-life-saving-medicine-plans-change-NHS-drug-licensing.html#ixzz2v0vIm84W
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2536936/Elderly-denied-life-saving-medicine-plans-change-NHS-drug-licensing.html#ixzz2v0v6y7x8
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
MORE than 10,000 people across County Durham will have their concessionary bus passes renewed this month.
Travel scheme passes due to expire on Monday March 31 will be replaced by a new pass valid until June 2019.
The passes will be sent out automatically but people should call the bus renewal hotline, on 03000-268-667, or visit a Durham County Council customer access point if they have recently moved house, received a pass in error or not received one by Monday March 24.
Proof of address, such as a utility bill, will be needed for those who have moved house.
Our comment: Not all councils renew in this way – for more information see our ‘Renewing your bus pass‘ Page
Somehow bus passes and their future seems to attract more attention than the NHS, and much as we want to see bus passes retained (annual cost c. £1 billion), we think the problems faced by the NHS (annual budget £95 billions) in meeting the needs of people (and the elderly form a large proportion of the users) are of more importance. And yet we have seen little in the way of proposals from the political parties on how they propose to address the issues facing the NHS, including:
- How the NHS is to be funded to care for the increasing population of older people as time goes on.
- How the NHS will cope with being able to offer the most effective treatments which new technology brings (It is galling for a prosperous country like the UK to be constantly reminded of the better care available to people in less wealthy countries.)
- How NHS Trusts are to be put back on a sound financial footing, which do not put pressure on managers which can result in poor care of elderly people.
All of the above have been in our view made more difficult for the NHS due to the requirement to achieve £15-20 Billions in ‘efficiency savings’ whilst the NHS has to cope with ever increasing demand and expectations for services, and new drug treatments.
Retiring NHS Chief Executive Nicholson has said that hospitals will have to close and services centralised to improve patient care. – what a happy prospect.
We also hear that former Health minister David Owen has given the Labour Party £7,500 – Owen’s stated reason for giving money is to help Labour “rescue our NHS”. Read more If this answers the points above the cost would represent a huge bargain, but perhaps we should reserve judgement.
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.
It seems the Conservatives cannot wait to betray their most loyal voting group. If you are a pensioner – beware!
As trailed on Vox Political last November, the Department for Work and Pensions appears to be planning to delete the cold weather payment from its chequebook, along with free bus passes and free TV licences.
We already know that the age at which the state pension will be paid is rising, meaning people will have to continue working for longer before they qualify for the £144/week payment (with a minimum National Insurance record of 30 full years). This is a betrayal of promises made by both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in their document ‘The Coalition: Our Programme for Government’.
Because life expectancy depends on where you live and your social class, this means many poorer people will enjoy only three-to-six years of retirement on average, while richer pensioners get 17-20 years of pension payments. That’s right – rich people even get a better deal from the state pension.
Iain Duncan Smith’s move flies in the face of David Cameron’s election pledge to rule out cuts to pensioner benefits
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.
Our comment: Can’t help thinking there will be a few more rounds in this fight within the Government, no doubt influenced by the forthcoming election.
Government says change will draw on “life experience” of pensioners over 70 for the first time
Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, is poised to announce changes to the law which will raise the maximum age for jury service by five years to 75.
Legislation to be unveiled next week will mean thousands more pensioners a year will be required to perform jury duty.
Mr Grayling – who first announced the change last summer – said the decision to raise the age limit was designed to “harness the knowledge and life experience” of older people.
Currently only those aged 18 to 70 can serve. The age limit was last raised in 1988, when it increased from 65.
According to Ministry of Justice figures between 2005 and 2012, an average of 179,000 people in England and Wales undertook jury service annually between 2005 and 2012.
Pensioners will be able to boost their state pension by up to £25 a week after yet another tweak to the pensions system was announced this week. Early indications suggest that this opportunity has generous terms, but what are the likely benefits and what else should you be looking to do?
Right now, the most anyone can get from their basic state pension is £110.15 per week but under new proposals pensioners can use their savings now to make top-up payments to get as much £25 extra per week. The scheme will open in October 2015 when the Government introduces a new class 3A of voluntary national insurance contributions (NICs), available to existing pensioners and anyone due to reach state pension age before April 2016 when the single tier pension is brought in.
“If you have spare cash to devote to increasing state pension entitlement it will almost certainly be a good thing to do that,” says Tom McPhail, pensions expert for Hargreaves Lansdown. “In principle the terms offered by the Government for these additional state pension deals look very attractive. Reports suggest an extra £1 a week of class 3A state pension would cost £900 to buy. On the open market, an inflation-linked single life annuity for a 65-year-old currently costs £1,468 for each £1 a week of income.”
I SHUDDER at the thought of those Labour-run councils in the UK dreaming up new ideas to justify cutting services and to unhelpfully blame this coalition Government for them.
Just try to cast your minds back to when, as if magically, under a socialist Government, all those new, smaller buses appeared cruising our streets every five minutes, serving far flung villages and communities.
All these public service vehicles were bought or leased on the back of subsidies from central Government and fed through the books of local authorities.
The increasing numbers of people qualifying for a bus pass and the very complicated way in which these concessionary fares are calculated has allowed some routes to show massive numbers of concessionary bus pass usage.
Other services may have to be reduced, which could affect those who live in rural areas and who have to use public transport to get to work. But my concern is, how long can this concession last?
Read more: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Days-concessionary-bus-passes-numbered/story-20536551-detail/story.html#ixzz2rypQNWXr
The only reason pensioners are given bus passes is to prop up one of the lowest pensions in the EU, (50 per cent of the EU average). We must also acknowledge that pensioners contribute around £40 billion every year to the economy through unpaid caring responsibilities, volunteering, childcare and community activities. We have paid into the system all our lives and are still paying taxes and buying.
However, the present debate is being cynically driven by the Government, because it is in their interest for us to blame each other, as it distracts from their responsibility for the economic crash.
Around one in five retirees are considering renting out a room in their homes as they struggle to get by on just their pension, research has found.
The latest figures suggest that around half of all Britons over the age of 65 now have a hard time living the life they want with just their pension to support them financially.
Given this, insurer More Than has reported a notable rise in ‘Granlords’, older people choosing to rent out at least one bedroom in their homes to generate some much-needed extra cash.
Such a tactic is far from surprising, especially given that the company’s study also found that the average pensioner now only has around £35 a week for themselves once living costs and other essentials are factored in.
However, while growing numbers of older Britons may be benefitting from a little extra income, few of them know the responsibilities that come with being a landlord, with many potentially leaving themselves vulnerable to prosecution for flouting rules and regulations.
“After years of working, being forced to become a landlord after retiring is far from an ideal situation but it’s clear that many people are considering this to provide additional financial support,” commented Matthew Poll from More Than.
“For those looking to bring in a lodger, it’s important that they make sure they choose the right person but it’s also vital that they have the right cover and I’d urge anyone considering this to contact their insurer.”