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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 18 June 2007

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WHILE The Zimmers take the world by storm, 28%of older people admit their lives have got worse in the last 12 months according to a landmark report  by leading older people’s charity Help the Aged. The equivalent of 2.66 million UK pensioners, roughly the total population of Lancashire and Merseyside, said their general quality of life had worsened while a staggering 93% of older people thought their lives had not improved.

Pensioners make up 1 in 5 people in the North West. Spotlight on older people in the UK, the 2nd annual report from Help the Aged, brings to light the issues faced by vulnerable older people: poverty; neglect; ageism; isolation and future deprivation. After tracking progress on the issues, the Charity is challenging the Government to remedy the long-term neglect of older people, starting by making changes to the law to put older people on an equal footing with the rest of society.

The report highlights that:
* 73% of adults in Great Britain agree age discrimination exists in the everyday lives of older people
* 47% of pensioners in Great Britain fail to claim Council Tax benefit and 1 in 3 pensioners on the lowest incomes are spending more than 10% of their income on council tax
* 21% of older people are living in poverty. If the number of UK pensioners living in poverty lived in one area they would replace the entire population of Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall
* 13% of older people are often or always lonely – this has risen from 8% in the last year and is roughly the total population of Leeds and Bradford

Kate Adams, Help the Aged Territory Director for the North, says:- “Far from being people’s twilight years, this report shows the reality of growing older in the UK is much darker. It is absolutely outrageous that people’s lives are getting worse or not improving as they get older.  Our SeniorLink and Handy Van services in the North West provide enormous peace of mind for older people, enabling them to live more independently in their homes for longer.  The number of people aged 65 years and over is expected to rise by nearly 60% in the next 25 years. There is no excuse for anyone, least of all the Government, to be oblivious to the issues facing older people.  If steps are not taken to enable people to carry on working and saving, to improve public health, and to ensure that adequate social care is available for those who need it, growing numbers of people will be blighted by disadvantage in older age. With so many older people already leading unfulfilled lives, there is no time to lose.”

Help the Aged is calling for:-

* a clear commitment to ending pensioner poverty once and for all and robust targets to achieve this

* a new Government strategy of paying benefits automatically to older people on the basis of information it already holds on them

* public bodies to promote age equality in the same way they are required to promote race, disability and gender equality

* a ban on age discrimination extending beyond the workplace in the forthcoming Single Equalities Bill

* a greater focus on health, more opportunities for activity and employment and better planning for the future


1 in 10 people in the North West have gone without food because they didn’t have enough money, according to a survey by leading children’s charity NCH and Barclays.  The survey’s findings are launched with a Top 10 Tips pocket guide to help families and young people on low incomes avoid debt and better manage their money as part of Financial Futuresa 3 year initiative between NCH and Barclays.  The results also reveal that 10% from the area had missed a rent payment, and despite 35% being in debt currently, only 31% of people understand financial terminology such as APR (annual percentage rate).

Michelle Dewberry, business woman and winner of last year’s ‘Apprentice,’ said:- “The key to being in control of your finances is having the knowledge to understand them. Once you can understand your finances, you can make them work for you.  That's why these top tips and the Financial Futures partnership are so important. Whatever your age, or amount you earn, taking the time to learn more about your finances will empower you to take matters into your own hands and before you know it, managing your money will be a far less frightening prospect."

Paul Moore, NCH Director of Children’s Services in the North West, said:- “Although these figures indicate a far bigger problem of poverty in the UK, there is no underestimating the devastating impact bad financial management can have on families’ lives.  For those who struggle to make ends meet, knowing how to manage money effectively can mean the difference between being able to provide food or medicine for your family or having to go without. There is still much more to be done to help people on low incomes get to grips with their finances, and hopefully these tips will be a great start.”

Rachel Herbinson, Barclays Community Relations Manager for the North West, said:- "By gaining an understanding of the financial terms and processes that impact our daily lives, young people and families can regain control of their own finances and avoid making the impossible choice of deciding to go without food, rent or medicine.  The new pocket guide is a first step in helping some of the most deprived people in the country learn how to maximise their income and prioritise their budget, a process that is reinforced at the Financial Futures workshops that we have funded that are taking place throughout the UK."

For a free copy of the ‘Financial Futures Top Ten Tips’ pocket guide go to or call NCH Supporter helpline on 08457 626579 (calls charged at local rate, open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday).

TheFinancial Futures Top Ten Tips are part of a 3 year Ł1.8 million partnership between Barclays and NCH to help families and young people on low incomes better manage their money.  Over the next 3 years, Financial Futures will provide 1-to-1 advice and workshops on topics including budgeting and access to benefits at 18 locations around the country. Over 1000 Barclays volunteers are expected to take part in the initiative.

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