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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 UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.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 41 Feb/March 2012

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Age Scotland - Campaign for better health and social care

Please note: These are the views of Age Scotland. UNISON Scotland has serious concerns about the plans for care integration and believes that no structural change will alter the fact that local authorities still have to find £400 million in cuts and these are directly affecting care services. UNISON is aware of many successful examples of integration that do not involve wholesale structural change.

UNISON Scotland has concerns about the Highland example and serious doubts on particular issues such as the timetable, staff pensions, TUPE transfers, the risk of outsourcing through the procurement process, professional support and accountability. Click here for the UNISON Scotland Response to the Scottish Parliament (pdf).

Join us in sending a message to the Scottish Government - older people want better health and social care services and to have a say in how they are reformed.

Send your message

With the right social care package in place when it's needed, older people spend less time in hospital and more time happy, well and independent at home.

Yet all too often this isn't how it works in practice, with gaps between NHS and local authority services keeping older people hospital bound longer than they need be.

The problem

Health services are delivered by the NHS. Social care is provided by local authorities. Different masters, separate budgets, and parallel structures and cultures - yet what older people want and need is to experience health and social care as a single service that gives them the care they need when they need it.

Latest developments (December 2011)

Following months of consultation the Scottish Government has set out its plans for health and social care reform. On 12 December 2011 the Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, announced that the Government will create a framework to integrate adult health and social care services around the needs of individuals rather than the needs of the organisations.

The new legislation will not include the creation of a new body that merges NHS and local authority social care services. Instead it will require:

  • NHS Boards and local authorities to produce integrated budgets for older people's services to bring an end to the 'cost-shunting' that currently exists
  • The role of clinicians and social care professionals in the planning of services for older people to be strengthened

The proposals also include shifting funds from institutional care to community services, but it is not clear yet how far this will go. Age Scotland broadly welcomes this development.

However the framework for integration is exactly that: it is a framework within which local professionals and managers will have the room to make the decisions, choices and changes that best serve local people in their own areas.

While this ambition for local determination and flexibility is laudable, it is vital that there a national guidance that all local partnerships fully engage with older people. This consultation will ensure that a new system is built around the needs of service users and that there is a step-change in the level of community-based services that older people need.

Since autumn 2011 Age Scotland has been calling on older people, and their friends, family and carers, to add their voices to the campaign. We've been asking you to sign up online, and by postcard, to our message to Nicola Sturgeon MSP that older people must have a say in how health and social cares services are delivered. As encouraging as recent developments are, it's vital we keep up the pressure if we are to make the most of this opportunity for change.

The Charity plans to present the Health Secretary with at least 700 messages of support at for lasting structural change and need for genuine consultation with older people. To make sure your voice is heard and to attend the event contact the Age Scotland campaigns team on Tel. 0845 833 9313 or by email www.ageuk.org.uk/scotland. You can also write to us at Age Scotland, Causewayside House, 160 Causewayside, Edinburgh EH9 1PR.

We can also be contacted for all general enquiries on 0845 833 0200. Please note that we cannot contact third parties at your request, so please provide only your own contact details.

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Social Care - A guide to the key issues (Age UK)

Click here for the Age UK guide

The above information was provided by Age Scotland. They can be reached at: www.agescotland.org.uk Or by calling: Age Scotland Helpline on: 0845 125 9732

My apologies for any misquotes
Mae Stewart

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Funding announced for boiler scrappage scheme (Age Scotland)

Age Scotland has welcomed an announcement by the Scottish Government to make a further 500,000 available as part of their Boiler Scrappage Scheme.

The scheme subsidises the replacement of inefficient boilers by offering households a voucher for 400 if they replace their boiler with a new, more efficient model recommended by the Energy Saving Trust.

Age Scotland Policy Officer, Greg McCracken said "Investing in a more efficient boiler can help cut your energy costs and, ultimately, allow you to recoup the cost of the initial outlay of buying the new equipment. By supporting homeowners in making their properties more fuel efficient, the Government is helping consumers cut down their fuel bills and tackling fuel poverty."

It is anticipated that a further 1,200 private homes will benefit from this new funding. The Scheme is operated on a first-come, first-served basis, so to take advantage of the available funding by contacting the Energy Saving Trust on 0131 555 8673.

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Labour Market Figures Mask Impact on Older Workers

UK labour market figures released recently by the Office for National Statistics reveal that the only age category to see an increase in long-term unemployment has been the 50+ group.

A rise of 21,000 in the three months to December took the total figure of over-50s who have been out of work for over 12 months to 189,000, a percentage rise of 12.2 over the previous three months.

Disappointingly, the overall number of older job seekers (50-64 years) increased again, by 16,000 (3.8 per cent), resulting in a disquieting set of statistics for older members of the workforce.

The reverse side of the coin is that the number of people aged over 65 in employment also rose again, by 26,000 in the three months to December, although many of these are thought to be part-time workers.

This is a 3.1 per cent rise on the last quarter, which seems to indicate that an increasing number of older people are choosing to delay their retirement as they face the reality of their pension annuities plummeting and truncated interest rates.

Callum Chomczuk, Age Scotland's Senior Parliamentary and Policy Officer, said: "The job market is currently turbulent for all age groups, but it is extremely disappointing that recent figures reveal a large jump in the number of long-term unemployed older workers. Their plight appears to be getting lost amid ongoing news about youth unemployment and government programmes specifically aimed at helping younger people.

"Despite recent changes in the law, such as the scrapping of the default retirement age, it is clear there are still significant barriers in place for older, unemployed adults actively seeking to re-enter the labour market. One implication is that the existing difficulties of the older job seeker are being compounded by financial incentives encouraging providers to concentrate on easier and cheaper targets.

"By dismissing older workers as being on the employment "scrap heap" or being unsuitable for positions due to their age, employers are missing out on a raft of skills and experience that can significantly benefit their business as well as the economy as a whole."

The outlook for all jobseekers is likely to remain grim in light of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's report published last week, which highlights that nearly one in four private sector employers are intending to make redundancies during the first quarter of 2012.

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World Congress on Active Ageing programme update

The 8th World Congress on Active Ageing will host a series of Active Ageing participation events, organised by local physical activity providers and to be staged in the Congress "Experience Zone" and other parts of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) in Glasgow.

These will include Dance House, Nordic Walking, the Glasgow Wheelers, Table Tennis, Indoor Climbing, Extend Exercises and Movement, Scottish Dancing, Later Life Training Falls Prevention Classes, Orienteering and IT and Photography classes. If you are an activity provider and wish to stage a participation event at WCAA 2012 contact the organisers on info@wcaa2012.com.

Scotland-wide participation and challenge events Not all older people will be able to attend the event at the SECC so the organisers are planning two Scotland-wide participation and Active Ageing Challenge events to coincide with the Congress.

Go for Gold Challenge - 3rd July 2012 With the National Association of Providers for Activities for Older People as key partner, July 3rd 2012 will see the "Go for Gold" Challenge take place, in which the residential and care sector right across the UK will be invited to participate in a one day event involving games, walking and dance challenges.

Walk with Me Challenge - 13th August 2012 To celebrate the opening of the 8th World Congress on Monday 13th August 2012, the "Walk with Me" Challenge will encourage organisations, groups, individuals and their friends to take steps towards a Scotland-wide walking challenge target. Further details of resources for these challenges are now available from www.active-ageing-events.org.uk.

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