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Issue Date:- 27 January 2009


SHELTERED housing schemes across the country are having on-site wardens removed while older people’s cries of protest are being ignored. Leading older peoples charity Help the Aged has published a new report, ‘Nobody’s Listening,’ which looks at the state of the nation’s sheltered accommodation.

Research commissioned for the report found that over the next 3 years 31% of sheltered housings schemes will lose their on-site wardens and have them replaced with a floating service. This will leave many older people who moved into sheltered accommodation on the understanding they would have the support of a warden, feeling let down and at possible risk of a slower response to emergency calls.

The report outlines the accelerating decline in the availability of sheltered accommodation which has fallen by 4% in the last 5 years and is predicted to fall a further 7% in the next 3 years. Around 800,000 older people - 7% of the retired population - live in sheltered and retirement housing but the Government’s plans to remove ring-fenced funding risks seeing this sector withering away.

Joe Oldman, Senior Policy Officer for Help the Aged, says:- “Older people are having services they rely on taken away without warning or consultation. Many who moved into sheltered accommodation are left stunned that such far-reaching changes can be made to their services without their consent. 

We have an ageing population which will put increasing pressure on our care services. Modern sheltered housing should have a key role to play in keeping people independent for longer, but our research shows that traditional sheltered housing is disappearing without a debate on what is best for older people.

If the Government is serious about allowing older people to maintain independence and dignity through their lives, Ministers needs to address the decline in sheltered housing and the potential dilution of preventative housing support services at a local level for those with moderate needs.”

Help the Aged is calling for a robust consultation process to be brought in, allowing older people to approve and participate in any changes to the services they receive. Although floating support may be a viable solution for some housing schemes, it should not be imposed on people who rely on the support of an on-site warden.

The Government needs to fulfil the promise of extending preventative support services across all types of housing, to the growing number of people who wish to remain independent but lack the basic services that make this possible. Government failures in this area will lead to older people needing more expensive levels of care further down the line as a consequence of the poor availability of early assistance.

Pay freezes grip some January settlements while wages overall continue to rise

PAY freezes are the most noticeable new trend in January’s settlements posted to the Labour Research Department (LRD) Payline database. But these are balanced by little movement in the levels of pay settlements overall. The mid-point increase in settlements is still 3.5%.

Out of 73 settlements that have come into effect on or after 1 January 2009, 12 – or one in six – are pay freezes either for the entire 2009 pay round or to be reviewed later in the year.

The number for January alone is 50% higher than the eight pay freezes posted to Payline in the whole of 2008. A majority of the freezes have occurred in the media sector, particularly local papers and books. Others are in manufacturing, chemicals and finance.

But at the other end of the wage spectrum, 10 (one in seven) deals in January were for increases of 5% or more, while the largest number, that's just over a quarter (20 or 27%) – fell into the 4% to 4.99% bracket.

“Pay freezes are the new element in pay trends but plenty of people are still getting good increases and overall settlement levels have not dropped off dramatically. Pay freezes may be being accepted by unions as a way to preserve jobs, but they may also reflect employers' desire to drive down costs with the recession as an excuse.”
said Lewis Emery, LRD’s pay and conditions researcher.

In an LRD survey of union reps’ bargaining predictions, conducted in December 2008, 9% of union reps predicted or had been told to expect pay freezes for 2009 across both public and private sectors.

However, the survey also found 17% of reps predicting pay rises of higher than last year, and another 26% expecting similar deals to 2008’s pay round.

“The pay trends in January’s Payline database would seem to bear out union reps’ predictions by showing a broader spread of deals ranging from over 8% to zero. This suggests that the downturn is affecting pay in various industrial sectors in very different ways.”

Payline registers pay and conditions settlements negotiated between unions and employers across all sectors of the economy. It contains around 2,300 agreements, and acts as a barometer for pay trends throughout 2009.

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