Older women feel let down by the coalition on care reform

Older women feel let down by the coalition on care reform.

  • 78% say delays to social care reform are unfair
  • 68% of older women say recent Government policies have been unfair
  • Increase in state pension age, tax increases and lower winter fuel allowance have also had an impact

Amidst fears that the Care and Support White paper this week will not fully address the funding crisis in the UK’s care system, new research* from Saga reveals that women over 50 are disillusioned with the current Coalition Government.

The Coalition’s delays to reforming the social care system and the lack of commitment on funding have been branded as unfair by over three quarters (78%) of women over 50 making it the issue most at odds with the needs of Britain’s older women. This figures increases to 80% amongst those over 60 and those in the ‘squeezed middle’ income bracket.

These women’s feelings have become even stronger since the recent Budget. In March, just over half (55%) of older women believed Government policies had been unfair to older members of society but in April 2012, after the Chancellor’s announcement the figure has increased to more than two thirds (68%)

Saga urges the Coalition to put more emphasis on older women’s circumstances and needs in future policy decisions – protecting most pensioner benefits is not enough to offset concerns about the urgency of providing more care funding or improving women’s pensions.

Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga comments, “The frustration amongst older women in particular with delays in promised reforms of social care funding is clearly having an impact on their feelings towards the Coalition Government. Women over 50 tend to form the majority of carers or of those needing care. Therefore the delays to reform and lack of commitment on funding impact upon this demographic most severely. The numbers of people requiring care continue to increase so more may use their life savings to pay for care if they don’t qualify for NHS or council funds. Funding is the crucial missing piece of the care puzzle and the longer the system is left as it is the more people will suffer unfairly. Delaying decisions on the funding needed until the next spending review ensure that the care crisis in the UK will continue. No more delays, reviews and consultations, we need urgent action.

“There has been a wide range of policy decisions impacting upon older generations this year and it is clear from this review that older women are not satisfied that their needs have been properly considered. It is our aim to use the unique insight we have from our customer base into the older demographics to help inform Government policy decisions.”

Women over 50 unhappy about other recent policy decisions too

  • Lower winter fuel allowance

While the delay to social care reform is by far the issue most distressing older women, the lower winter fuel allowance is also a source of contention with 55% finding this unfair – increasing to 70% amongst women in lower income groups who will struggle with the lower allowance.

  • Increase in state pension age

The over 50s are generally opposed to increases in state pension age, although this is more strongly felt amongst women. Over half (55%) of women thought the increase to their pension age was unfair – unsurprisingly increasing to 69% for those in their fifties.

What do YOU think?

Social Care Debate

Summary of women’s attitudes towards recent policies

Unfair Fair Neither/don’t know
Delaying social care reforms 78% 4% 18%
Changes to personal tax allowance 68% 16% 16%
Lower winter fuel allowance 58% 18% 24%
Increased state pension age – women 55% 25% 20%
Tying future pension increases to CPI instead of RPI 45% 18% 47%
Abolishing default retirement age 27% 38% 35%
Retaining universal pensioner benefits 10% 56% 44%