Provided by Mae Stewart, Editor UNISON Retired members Newsletter,
Dundee, Perth and Angus. Please note that this is not definitive
information about benefits but will provide a signpost as to where
to get up to date information. Please check the sources first.
UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that
may be outdated or inaccurate.
Issue 35 Feb/March 2011
top | Information
& Resources Index
What the New Health & Social Care Bill Means
The Government has presented its new Health Bill to Parliament
(it only applies to England and partly to Wales although
the part affecting arrangements between the NHS Commissioning
Board will affect Scotland - UNISON opposes the Bill:
see info here and UNISON's
vision here), with the focus on improving patient
treatment and experience, as well as increased emphasis on
public health and prevention. But what exactly will it mean
for us and what does Age UK think about the new proposals?
As the new Health Bill continues its passage through the
House of Commons on Monday 31st January with its Second Reading,
overall, Age UK thinks the ideas behind the changes could
be good for people in later life.
We agree with the Government that a much clearer focus on
what actually happens to patients while they are being treated,
and how many people get better, is the right kind of vision
for the NHS to be asked to live up to.
Better patient care needed
But, we think there are some problems with the way the Government
wants to make these changes and that in some areas they might
not mean better care for people. To be successful, the health
reforms need to deliver better patient care for everyone,
not just the illnesses where it might be possible to treat
people and see results quickly.
People are living longer and living with more complicated
health problems so it is important the NHS focuses care on
people with more than one health problem or who might be more
difficult to treat.
Services that keep people out of hospital such as falls prevention
or foot care should also be widely available.
More cooperation required
We think that local authorities and GPs around the country
should work together more closely to ensure that there aren't
as many gaps between health and social care services. Also,
people who design healthcare services should be open and transparent
about the decisions they are taking - if the NHS is really
going to get better, people who make the decisions need to
hear the views of patients loud and clear.
Healthcare professional concerns
Many doctors, nurses and other health professionals are concerned
about these changes. One of the most important things the
Government should do is make sure that current services are
maintained. People shouldn't have to suffer because the health
service is being reformed - it's important that today's patients
don't lose out while services are reorganised to provide better
People in later life are the main users of NHS services.
Poor communication, a lack of joined-up care, plus services
that don't work well all have a high impact on those who are
frequent service users. Everyone suffers when poor practice
goes unchallenged, so getting healthcare right for people
in later life is fundamentally about getting it right for
top | Information
& Resources Index
How the New Pensions Bill Will Affect
On 13 January 2011 the Government's new Pensions Bill received
its first reading in Parliament. Here's a quick guide to what's
been said, and what these changes could mean for you.
An increase in the State Pension Age
The first key reform in this Bill is the increase in the
State Pension Age. The State Pension Age is different from,
and not linked to the Default Retirement Age - it is the age
at which eligible people begin to receive their state pensions.
How the changes will be brought through
Under the current rules, the State Pension Age for women
is in the process of rising from 60 to 65 to equalise with
men; and then state pension age for both men and women was
due to increase from 65 to 66 between 2024 and 2026. The Pensions
Bill is bringing forward the timing of equalisation and the
rise in the State Pension Age from 65 to 66 for both men and
· Under the new legislation, women's state pension age will
reach 65 by November 2018.
· The rise from 65 for both men and women will begin in December
2018 and reach 66 by April 2020.
Concern over those on lower incomes
Age UK is concerned that this change will hit the poorest
hardest, as people on lower incomes are generally more reliant
on their state pensions and have lower life expectancy.
Better news is the new provisions about auto-enrolment.
For the first time, all workers will have the right to a pension
contribution from their employer unless they decide to opt
out of the scheme. The new Government reviewed these plans
and the Pensions Bill introduces some changes.
Age UK is pleased that most of the provisions remain - for
example, there will be no exemption for small firms, who will
have to pay pension contributions for their employees. The
Bill provides for an optional waiting period of up to three
months before the employee is automatically enrolled.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK, commented:
'Auto-enrolment is a hugely important reform which means that
for the first time, all workers will have the right to a pension
contribution from their employer unless they decide to opt
out of the scheme. While we have some concerns about the increase
in the threshold and the introduction of a waiting period,
we are pleased that there will be no exemption for small firms.'
What happens now
Age UK will be working to ensure that the Government invests
in providing good-quality information and advice to help people
understand the new pensions options available to them and
make informed decisions about saving for retirement. We believe
that January 13's announcement brings both good and bad news
for people in later life: Phasing out the Default Retirement
Age is good for those that want to continue working past 65,
but plans to increase the State Pension Age more rapidly than
previously planned is bad news for the millions of older people
unable to work for longer'
For more information, please visit www.ageuk.org.uk/fallscampaign'
For any advice on any issues which affect you please contact:
Age UK Advice: 0800 169 6565
These excerpts were taken from Age UK. Apologies for any
misquotes Mae Stewart
Useful Contact Numbers
Action on Elder Abuse: 0808 808 8141
A national, freephone helpline for anyone concerned in any way
about the abuse of older people, whether in their own homes, sheltered
housing, care homes and hospitals. Lines open: Monday-Friday,
· Age UK Customer Services: 0800 169 8787
We are here to answer questions, concerns and complaints from
our supporters and from members of the public about the Charity
and our activities, including how you can get involved with Age
UK. Lines open: Mon-Fri, 8.30am-5.30pm
· Age UK Information & Advice: 0800 169 6565
if you need information or advice from anything from health to
housing, please give us a call. We can also put you in touch with
our local Age UK partners (who may still be called Age Concern).
Lines open: 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.
· BT faults: 0800 800 151 If you have a fault
on your BT phone line, then you can report it free. Lines open:
24 hours a day. BT Nuisance/malicious calls helpline 0800 661441
A national, free number if you're getting persistent unwanted
calls. Lines open: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone to
· Consumer Direct: 0845 404 0506 The government-funded
service that offers clear and impartial information and advice
on consumer issues, from overcharging to faulty goods or dodgy
workmanship and from energy supply to postal problems. Lines open:
8am-6:30pm, Monday to Friday; 9am-1pm, Saturday
· Cruse Bereavement Care helpline: 0844 477
9400 Cruse promotes the well-being of bereaved people and
enables anyone bereaved by death to understand their grief and
cope with their loss. Lines open: Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm
· Gas Emergency Contact Number: 0800 111 999
If you smell gas and are worried there may be a leak, then call
this number free to report a potential gas emergency. Lines open:
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
· Home Heat Helpline: 0800 33 66 99 If you're
struggling to pay your fuel bill or worried how you're going to
stay warm, the Home Heat Helpline will make it easier for you
to find the answers. Lines open: Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm Saturday,
· MIND: 0845 766 0163 The mental health charity
provides information on a range of topics including types of mental
distress, where to get help, drug and alternative treatments and
advocacy. They are also able to provide details of help and support
for people in their own area. Lines open: Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm
· National Debtline: 0808 808 4000 A free,
confidential helpline offering independent advice on how to deal
with debt problems. Lines open: Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm; Saturday,
· NHS Direct: 0845 4647 Whenever you have
health worries, NHS Direct has the knowledge and experience to
give you real help and reassurance. Lines open: 24 hours a day,
7 days a week.
· Pension Service: 0845 6060 265 A national
helpline for anyone who has questions about their pension or is
planning for retirement. Lines open: Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm
· Samaritans: 0845 790 9090 Samaritans provides
confidential non-judgmental emotional support, 24 hours a day
for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair,
including those which could lead to suicide. Lines open: 24 hours
a day, 7 days a week. The above information was taken from Age
My apologies for any misquote. Mae Stewart