Blogs

A progressive contract between the generations

 Rather than dividing generations, politicians should be seeking to develop a progressive contract that unites all ages.

 As the New Statesman's excellent editiorial suggests (28 March), such a contract should include both universal childcare and eldercare that meets the needs of our ageing population. But it must go further to cover housing and work. If older people were encouraged to downsize and homeshare for example, it would help younger people get the homes they need. Similarly working longer needs to be matched with help for young people getting into work and flexible working options.

The cornerstone for growth should be giving everyone the chance to work and somewhere decent to live and supporting families with their caring responsibilities. Underpinning action on homes, care and jobs has to be fair taxation, shifting the balance from income to wealth and property

Taking care of all generations highlights our interdependence. It focuses on what unites rather than divides us – our mutual concerns and aspirations; prevention being better than cure; making technology work for all; intervening across the life course – it’s never too early or late to act; and giving power to the people.

We can create a Britain for all ages. To make a start we need leadership and a new spirit in Britain that uses the assets and the contributions of citizens of all ages.  31 March 2014

Another death nail for care funding?

Every decision has consequences - and two days after the Budget, more concerns are being expressed about the changes to pensions.

George Osborne's 'spend it now, worry later' move on annuities has already caused worries about the implications for the housing market and the long-term retirement income for pensioners (as well as what will become of the annuities market).

One other big concern must be about paying for care. If people spend much of their savings early on in retirement, then they will need to sustain their income through selling their property.

So at the same time that the Government is expecting older people to pick up more of their own care bills (by setting a very high cap on care costs), fewer older people may have significant resources to pay for care. They will then expect the shrinking state to pay for their care (or hope their family will help out).

The Pensions Minister may be cool about older people splashing their pension cash on Lamborghinis. But in a few years time, we could all be regretting this short-sighted decision. 21 March 2014 

From growing pains to a society for all ages

The Times' leader (Growing Pains, Nov 7) is right to highlight the profound implications of population growth for the UK, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

Living longer means that many of us aged 60-90 plus have lots of opportunities to contribute more through work and volunteering and in our communities and our families. The new baby boom means that growing numbers of children will help sustain our ageing population in decades to come.

To maximise the contributions of all generations, we need to invest in education, housing, health, care and support. But we also need to tackle the ageism that ignores and devalues what many older people can do and reinforces suspicions and stereotypes across generations.

Creating a society for all ages is the way for Britain to thrive. 8 November 2013

Up a beanpole without a policy?

Public policy has a long way to go to catch up with the growing number of multigenerational families in Britain (Observer).

We need better policies on housing and care that reflect the new realities of family life.

But we also need to tackle ageism in our society that fails to recognise and value the many contributions that older people do and could make. 28 October 2013

Scrap the cap after care funding fiasco

As the government’s plans for reforming the funding of care unravel further, United for All Ages has called on the government to scrap its fundamentally flawed cap on care costs.

Setting out ten reasons why the cap should be scrapped, United for All Ages called on the government to come up with a new system for funding care that is ‘simple, fair and sustainable’.

In a briefing paper (http://unitedforallages.com/drupal/sites/all/sites/default/files/files/S...), United for All Ages argues that the government’s plans would make the care funding system even more complicated and unfair and will not provide the extra resources needed to support our ageing population.

The cap on care costs also will not promote prevention by focusing on paying for crisis care, they will not support joined up health and care, and crucially many older people and their families will still have to sell their home to pay for care.

The government’s proposals are misleading and a con. Families will get a rude shock when they realise how much older people will have to pay for their care. And the government won’t have achieved one of its aims which is to stop older people having to sell their homes to pay for care.

The government must rethink urgently. Otherwise the whole care system is like the Titanic heading towards a massive iceberg in 2016, leaving millions of older people and families without the care they need. Scrapping the cap and introducing a new funding system based on taxation would be fairer and simpler. 15 October 2013
 

Long over-due recognition of carers for all ages

Is 'a change gonna come'? Some of what United for All Ages has been calling for made a welcome appearance this weekend.

The August bank holiday weekend traditionally marks the end of summer and the beginning of a ‘new term’, if not at school then the long haul back at work until Christmas.

So it was appropriate to see several reports published over the bank holiday arguing for more support for family carers who work.

Because some of them have government support, it’s likely that the ideas may be turned into action.

First up was a call from the Department of Health and Carers UK for employers to do more to support their staff who have caring responsibilities. With our ageing population, more employees will be caring for an older relative but many currently have to give up work.

With more flexible working, together with a cultural shift by employers, life could be made a lot easier for employees. And businesses could benefit by keeping staff.

We have had similar calls from the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) with their focus on The Sandwich Generation – particularly older women who are caring for both an older relative and grandchildren.

A Labour Party commission led by Harriet Harman is looking at how to support the ‘lynchpin’ generation of women aged 50-75 who provide much of the care in our society – and who increasingly want to carry on working.

The ippr report encourages government to look elsewhere in Europe, for example the German scheme to support working carers.

There is no question that more of us are going to be working longer – because we want to or we have to. The Observer on Sunday 25 August had a feature on this growing trend.

Finally this week will see government proposals on housing and planning to support the growing number of older people with new housing choices. As well as building more bungalows, the proposals will put forward council tax discounts where three generations of a family live under the same roof.

As we all live longer, these are just some of the much needed ways in which our society needs to change. 27 August 2013

Oh baby, what a difference sixty years make - the old boomers vs the new boomers

 Britain is in the grips of a baby boom as the birth rate reaches the highest level since 1972, according to the latest population figures from the Office for National Statistics.

But what will life be like for the new baby boomers compared to the old baby boomers born between 1946-1964?

Below are some 30 characteristics of the old boomers and speculation on what the future holds for the new boomers.

While many old boomers will protest that life hasn’t been so good for them, they will acknowledge that the new boomers face a tough and uncertain future.

Family, home, education, work, finances and social interaction will all be very different. But also there’s a lot in common as baby boom generations shape the future.

 

The old baby boomers 1946-1964

The new baby boomers 2006 to present

Growing up post-war and rationing

Growing up in austerity

Parents younger, mother likely not to work

Older parents, mother likely to be working

Parents are British born

Parents more likely to be migrants

Start school at five

Been in nursery/childcare before school

Leave school by 16

Stay in education to 18/university

Free education and grant for students

Students fees and loans

Leave home and start work

More likely to live at or return home

Benefited from rising house prices

Struggling to get on the housing ladder

TV watchers

Mobile technology

Growing inequality

Growing inequality

Credit cards

Hard to borrow

Encouraged to save

Forced to spend

Sex and drugs

The new puritans

Rock’n’roll vinyl and radios

Spotify and iTunes

Redefined traditional values

Redefined traditional values

Witnessed big social change

Witnessed big economic change

Optimistic and idealistic

Not sure yet

Privileged and affluent

Poorer than their parents

Beneficiaries of the welfare state

Making their own way, with difficulty

Acquired lots of ‘stuff’

Store everything on iCloud

Reads newspapers and magazines

Accesses news online

Shops at supermarkets

Shops online or locally

Extended family close by

Multiple families dispersed

Job for life and pension

Insecure work and rewards, portfolio career

Retired before or at 65

Working until 75 plus

Living longer, rising healthcare costs

Living until 100 plus

Own 80% of wealth

Hope to inherit something

Worried about ageing and care

Will choose when they die

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton

To be elected

 

Growing up after the second world war has obvious differences and also parallels to growing up in austerity Britain.

We have seen huge social and technological change over the last sixty years but economic uncertainty is set to dominate the lives of the new baby boomers. Their lives will be less about possessions and more about coping with insecurity.

Each generation goes on to define itself and the new baby boomers will set the tone for the rest of the 21st century and beyond.

Policymakers need to ensure that the opportunities a new baby boom generation offers to support our ageing population are maximised before it’s too late. 12 August 2013

Planning for a booming population

Not everyone seems convinced, but United for All Ages thinks that the new baby boom and the growth in the UK's population are good news. Good for our economy and good for our society as we live longer.

More children and more younger people migrating to Britain will help us sustain our ageing population with more than half a million people now aged over 90.

To make the most of the opportunities that a growing population offers, we must put in place proper plans. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Here are five starters:

1) supporting families with young children - from more midwives and health visitors to children's centres, nurseries and childminders, we need to give all children a good start in life. Schools also need more places and that's not about creating ever large class sizes.  Investing in our future starts here. 

2) building affordable homes for life - we have a housing crisis. Families with young children need new homes but also older people need decent and appropriate homes thereby releasing larger properties. Building new homes will create places to live and hundreds of thousands of new jobs

3) creating communities for all ages - we need to make the most of local community resources, like children's centres, schoolls, libraries, GP centres, older people's housing schemes and care homes, and open them up to wider community use. We need spaces where people of all ages can meet and share life. Lifetime neighbourhoods for all ages.

4) working better as well as longer - we need to support the workforce of the future by giving them a good start in life. But we also need to help those in their 20s and 30s into work that is fulfilling. Enable women to continue working with affordable childcare. Support carers in later life to balance work and caring in their 50s and 60s. Encourage multi-generational workforces that nurture talent across the generations. And enable people to carry on working for as long as they want.  

5) supporting older people - helping older people to continue living independently with companionship and practical support as well as funding care properly are key to a healthy old age. Having a growing and younger workforce is key to making this happen. What do we want when we reach old age?

If we get it right, we can build a Britain for all ages - where a booming population means a booming Britain and a future for all ages. 9 August 2013

Beware Cameron's childcare con - real solutions to childcare crisis needed

So why is spending £1 billion on tax breaks for parents on their childcare bills not a good idea?

There are lots of reasons but here are three:

1) those who will benefit will be wealthier families (except for the highest earners over £150k a year) who are most likely to be able to afford childcare; to get the £1200 tax break, you must be able to spend at least £4800 per year on childcare in the first place

2) those really struggling with paying for childcare are middle and low income families; very few of these parents and thereby their children will be helped by the tax breaks and they need help now, not the promise of a little jam in 2015 and beyond

3) childcare is in crisis - as well as rocketing costs for parents, the number of places is falling as children's centres, nurseries and childminders close but because of the new baby boom there are growing numbers of children under five who need childcare now and over the next few years. Tax breaks for wealthy families won't help create affordable childcare where it is most needed - instead a two tier childcare system will be created.

We need government to develop a proper childcare strategy, investing in childcare places that help parents work and give children the best start in life. Not tax breaks for some higher earners. Beware Cameron's childcare con. 5 August 2013 

Norman's big society?

When I worked for the crime prevention charity Crime Concern almost twenty years ago, it was obvious that Neighbourhood Watch had much more potential than just 'curtain twitching'.

Neighbourhood Watch is probably the largest community programme in the country. Most areas have local Neighbourhood Watch schemes of one sort or another.

As well as spotting whether there is a burglar in the street or someone has vandalised a car, these schemes and their members could be looking out for others who live on their street.

Are the kids ok? Have young people got something to do? Does a family need a hand? And, as Care Minister Norman Lamb suggests today, are there older people who are lonely and isolated?

The answer is of course yes - we should look out for others who live nearby. And yes, Neighbourhood Watch could be a vehicle to do this.

As always the question is where to draw the line. Offering a bit of companionship and some practical help like gardening or shopping must be a good thing.

But when an older person needs regular help with getting up and going to bed, washing, dressing, eating, toileting and more, then surely we need proper home care services to step in.  

We need to fill this gap as well - home care services are woefully underfunded and squeezed. Almost a million older people are missing out and could do with better care in their home.

So let's provide more companionship through Neighbourhood Watch as part of Norman's big society. But let's invest in care where it's needed too. 15 July 2013

  

Are you ageing with attitude?

Much of the media coverage of the 2013 Glastonbury festival focused on older guys ‘strutting their stuff’. Yes, they were guys – the Rolling Stones, Nile Rodgers of Chic and Kenny Rogers. And all in their 60s and 70s. And of course not forgetting octogenerian Bruce Forsyth.

If they can do it, can’t we all – in our own way? That is the thrust of Ageing with Attitude (Network, £12.99), a new ‘guide for baby boomers not ready to hang up their boots’.

Written by Mary Evans Young and Derek Evans, the book features examples from the couple’s own experiences (and from many others too) of ageing not so gracefully.

This is of course not new territory. Media debate seems constantly to focus on the baby boomers and whether they’ve had it all, mostly the money that is.

But many baby boomers are also looking at what increasing longevity means for the last thirty to forty years of life beyond the traditional retirement age. Are we merely adding years to life, or life to years?

This new book is obviously about the latter. It argues that having the right mindset and attitude is key to having a meaningful, exciting and fulfilling later life.

‘It’s never too late to start’ would also be one of the authors’ maxims. But a question has to be asked. Can people change their approach to life at age 55/60/65/70? If you’re curious, challenging, giving, creative and connected for the first 55 years plus of your life, surely you will continue to be. If you’re not…?

The reality is that we all face some big choices and challenges if we’re not to leave this mortal coil feeling unfulfilled. Thirty years of boredom, loneliness and unhappiness are not something to look forward to. So the challenge from the Evans is to each and everyone of us – it’s up to us how we respond. This book will stimulate a lot of thinking and reflection.

Our society also needs us to change. This is not just a quest for individual self-fulfilment. Or celebrity chasing at Glastonbury. This about all of us.

While we all know that our population is ageing and we are living longer, very little attention has been given to the new baby boom the UK is experiencing in 2013. This is good news for our economy and our society and makes our ageing population much more sustainable.

But it will also provide more tasks for grandparents and great-grandparents. We need younger people to look after us in our last years but before then we have to make sure the growing number of children get the best start in life to fulfil their potential too.

So as well as enjoying our later life, we need to give a lot back. Our families, neighbours and communities need us, and we need to remain connected in later life. Older people are already the bedrock of civil society but we could do much more. Or more older people could do much more.

To help make that happen we all need to end the ageism that hinders the contributions that older people do and can make. Ageing with Attitude is certainly an important attempt to tackle this societal scourge.

Will this new book reach and engage those who are seeing out their time? Or will it be another tome for those already convinced that life is exciting whatever your age? Spread the word before it’s too late. 5 July 2013   

SPECIAL OFFER you can buy Ageing with Attitude for £8.99 here

Parallel lives?

Have you seen the new 'Parallel Lives' advert for McDonald's?

It follows a young man and an older man through a series of different but similar everyday activities. They both end up in McDonald's and eating their meal they exchange glances at each other as they enjoy their fries.

The sign-off line is: We all have McDonald's in common.

As much of the media signs up to 'Generation Wars', it's great to see McDonald's showing how the generations have a lot in common and could be united.

The only quibble is that the young man is shown with all his mates while the older man is on his own throughout the advert.

Let's hope in the next advert that they become friends, and McDonald's sponsors the Campaign to End Loneliness. Why not? 1 July 2013

The wrong priorities for a Britain for all ages

It could have been a spending review that put homes, care and jobs at the forefront of the drive for growth.

Instead the spending review tightens the squeeze on public spending and employment, with local government in particular being hit hard.

Housing needs to be at the heart of action for young people desperate for somewhere affordable to live and to give our ageing population more options in old age.

Childcare and eldercare will both be squeezed further as local authorities face massive cuts.

Families face never-ending austerity in no-growth Britain. The battle lines have been set for the 2015 election. 26 June 2013

Fortunate or for proper tax?

The Bishop of London is the latest to highlight how the ‘fortunate generation’ of baby boomers threatens intergenerational equity (Take less, bishop tells baby boomers).

But this should be seen as a blessing not a threat.

 Britain is still a rich country.

What we need are fairer taxes on assets as well as income; more encouragement and support for older people to carry on contributing through work, volunteering and family; and action on housing, caring and jobs to boost growth and create a future for all ages.

It can be done. 13 June 2013

New blogs on care

See the Care Corner on Good Care Guide for new blogs about care by Stephen Burke and Denise Burke.

See Childcare Champions for new blogs on childcare.

Living together - new homes for three generations

Pioneering designs for new homes that promote multi-generational living are proposed in a new report by Michael Keith from Northumbria University, published by United for All Ages.

Britain is witnessing a growth in multi-generational households with three or more generations of a family living under the same roof. But our current housing stock does not support this trend which is driven by many socio-economic factors.

In the Cross-Generational Housing report, Michael Keith critiques existing housing and some new developments which fail to meet the needs of different generations, in particular older people.

Michael Keith proposes a new ‘universal design’ concept for flexible living for three generations – promoting both independence and shared spaces.

The design tackles layout of the home, personal space and ownership, individual needs and accessibility, as well as being environmentally sustainable. His proposal looks to house three generations, taking the form of a family home with a separate, self-contained apartment for an elder generation. The two are connected structurally, however the apartment can be closed off (if desired) from the main house by a moveable 'wall'. This could allow for other opportunities such as an independent apartment for maturing children or an alternative source of income. He also aims to keep the spaces within both properties free of any internal structural walls, thus allowing rooms to be configured and re-configured over time.

Michael Keith said: “There are many economic reasons why cross-generational housing should be considered more seriously. But all of that aside, I think it’s mad that more often than not our elderly parents sit in their empty 3+ bedroom houses alone. Cross generational-housing doesn’t have to be about families living on top of each other and getting in one another’s way. Just the proximity of having each other close is often enough to ease the minds of both parties, not to mention the benefits that both parties can provide for each other. We should cherish the little time that we have on this planet and aim to make a real difference to each other’s lifestyle by taking care of those who we love most.”

More families are sharing their home across three generations. The trend is being driven by falling incomes, the cost of housing and the need for care amongst other things. We need architects and builders to catch up and offer families the kind of homes they want to share. Michael Keith has laid down the challenge which is part of the solution to Britain’s housing crisis. 25 March 2013
 

Childcare tax break 'too little, too late' for most parents

The government has announced a tax break of up to £1200 on childcare spending of £6000 pa per child under five from autumn 2015.

The proposal would particularly benefit wealthier families and leave some families worse off. Given the childcare crisis now facing families, the proposal is ‘too little, too late’.

The proposal raises many questions:

- Much of the funding would be recycled from the current tax exemption on childcare vouchers which currently provides up to £933 per working parent (ie up to £1866 for a family where both parents work)

- Only those families able to spend £6000 pa per child on childcare up front will realise the full tax benefits ie those on higher incomes

- It won’t tackle the growing crisis in childcare – with the number of childcare places falling, providers closing and costs rising for low and middle income parents who need help now

- It also raises questions about how the tax break will be administered by HMRC, voucher companies and childcare providers promising an administrative ’dog’s dinner’; also it won’t start until late 2015 and not until 2020 for older children

This proposal will only benefit a limited number of mainly wealthier parents and some will be left worse off. Many more families are facing the childcare crisis of rising costs and falling places. There is a real danger that the proposed tax break will push up costs further and create a two-tier childcare system. It’s too little, too late.

This is short-sighted. Access to childcare helps give children a good start in life and enables parents to stay in work. Research shows that parents who can return to work after having children have much better career and income prospects for the rest of their life. Better childcare is crucial to Britain’s future economic and social success.

The government needs a new national childcare strategy to make quality childcare more affordable and sustainable. This must include proper funding for free childcare places for two, three and four year olds. And the government must simplify the complex funding of childcare to make better use of the funding and to target help to low and middle income parents. A new online childcare account would help achieve this. 19 March 2013

Planning for an ageing society - three suggestions

So Britain is 'woefully underprepared' for our ageing society, according to a House of Lords committee.

They demand action now by government. But they could have made similar calls over the last few decades, and still not enough has been done to plan for our ageing population.

Will this latest report lead to radical action?

Three suggestions:

1) we need to engage all ages in raising awareness and in coming up with solutions - this is not just a challenge for older people but for us all

2) we need to help people to help themselves across the life course - planning ahead, and remaining fit, healthy and involved with friends and family

3) we need to be smarter about how we spend public resources - out of expensive hospital and residential care and in the community, in homes and in prevention

So the peers are right to warn us. Now we need radical action by and for all ages with government taking a lead. In the coming months United for All Ages will be promoting some new solutions. 14 March 2013

Why we have launched Childcare Champions

Today United for All Ages launches a new website: Childcare Champions, standing up for quality affordable childcare for all families.

Here's why:

firstly, we are very concerned about where childcare policy in this country is heading. The Government's More Great Childcare plans threaten to undermine progress made on quality, while failing to tackle the big concerns of families about affordability.

secondly, affordable quality childcare is central to economic and social progress for our country and for all parents and children. We need a new vision for making it happen - not more piecemeal announcements that don't address the real issues.

thirdly, it's time to inject some energy, passion and experience into public debate about childcare. We can't afford for childcare to go into reverse in this country and we must ensure that the voices of families are heard loud and clear.

Access to childcare has lifelong effects for parents and children. A long time out of work while having children affects women's earnings in later life. And the lifelong social and economic benefits of quality childcare for children are well documented.

Childcare Champions has no vested interests, no contracts with government and no reasons to hold back in public statements. We shall speak truth to power. 26 February 2013

'The minister's new caps' make care more complicated and unsustainable

Older people and their families face a double blow as the Government finally announced its response to the Dilnot commission. The proposed changes will make the care system more complicated and unsustainable, says United for All Ages.

The Government is making the care funding system even more complicated:
- There will be two caps – one on care costs and one on board and lodging
- Care costs will only be eligible if you have high needs and only at the standard rate
- The capital threshold will rise to £123k but will be tapered below that figure
- Families will still have to make ‘top up’ payments above the standard rate
- Payment of care costs could be made in several different ways

No new money is being injected into the underfunded care system. £1bn is substituting private spending on care with public spending. Local authorities continue to cut care budgets. With almost one million older people missing out on care already and with demand for care growing for our ageing population, the care system desperately needs extra funding. By 2017 many more older people will need care and support – but no more funding has been made available.

Stephen Burke, Director of United for All Ages and the Good Care Guide, said: “How do you make a complex care system even more confusing? Add a cap; then say the cap won't cover all care costs; then taper the means testing; then add another cap which will increase annual bills for care home residents; then add various ways to pay for your caps; the choice is yours but you will also need to find more money on top. It’s not surprising that Dilnot also prescribed better advice and information for older people and their families.

“These proposals aren’t built to last. The current care system is on its last legs. This new system with no extra funding will face substantially higher demands for care by 2017 as our population ages. Few people will benefit as the Government shifts the costs of care further and further onto older people and their families. The next government will have to pick up the pieces after the 2015 election.

“By developing a new funding stream for crisis care, the proposals do not promote either integration between care and health or prevention - both of which are critical to making better use of scarce resources and to delivering better care in or closer to older people's homes.

“No wonder people are saying that ‘the minister’s new caps’ feels like a con.” 11 February 2013


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