Silver Voices is supporting the Alzheimer's Society campaign to draw attention to the fact that there is already a 'dementia tax'. Dementia does not qualify for free care unlike other medical conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
GENERAL ELECTION 2017
Silver Voices analysed all the political parties' manifestos from a senior citizens' viewpoint to help our members decide which way to vote. We concluded that we could not advise our members to vote for the Conservatives because of their policies on pensions, health and social care and the winter fuel payment. A survey of Silver Voices members, asking for their top three priorities to be addressed by the political parties in their manifestos, found that a massive 94% identified resolution of the health and social care crisis as a top priority, double that on any other issue. The second most popular priority was 'more investment in retirement and special care housing' (47%), followed by protection of the state pension 'triple lock' (38%).
INVESTING IN SOCIAL CARE: THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY FOR 2017
Silver Voices is calling for substantial emergency funding from Government for adult social care to resolve the health and care crisis. We reject the use of a further surcharge on council tax payers for this purpose. The Communities and Local Government Department hold billions of pounds of surplus funds from business rates which could be used now to underpin the social care system.
CAMPAIGNING TO SUPPORT THE TRIPLE LOCK AND THE WINTER FUEL PAYMENT
Parliamentary pressure is growing to scrap the Triple Lock (guaranteeing a minimum 2.5% annual increase in the basic state pension) and to means-test the Winter Fuel Payment (WFP). A survey of Silver Voices members has shown massive support for retaining these entitlements with many pointing to the very low level of the basic state pension in comparison to other developed countries; making it almost impossible to retire in dignity without other sources of income. Means testing the WFP would cost more in administration than it would save and many vulnerable pensioners would slip through the net. Silver Voices will be urging MPs to resist attacks on these hard-won entitlements.
WHY THE SECRET NHS PLANS MUST BE PUBLISHED
Silver Voices is demanding the publication of the secret Sustainability and Transformation Plans submitted to NHS England by local areas. Information has emerged that the plans contain major cuts in service provision, including the closure of community hospitals, downgrading of A and E units and reductions in hospital beds.
Silver Voices is supporting the junior doctors in their programme of strike action. In a snap poll of our members nearly 80% voted to support them in their campaign. The current health service is struggling to cope so the priority of the Government should not be to introduce an unfunded 7-day service on the backs of the junior doctors.
Silver Voices is backing a campaign by the charity Action on Elder Abuse for elder abuse to be recognised as an aggravated criminal offence with statutory minimum sentences. Their petition on the Government petitions' website can be accessed at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/132323 .
FUNDING FOR THE NHS
Silver Voices conducted a survey of members giving ten different options for finding the billions of pounds required to restore our NHS and social care system. Members were asked to identify their top three priorities from the list, taken singly or together ,that would raise the funds required. 68% wanted to increase general taxation or national insurance, 62% wanted to minimize tax evasion and divert savings to the NHS and 62% wanted to scrap Trident. Only 20% supported the Brexit case to use net annual savings from EU contributions for the NHS.
ATTENDANCE ALLOWANCES CAMPAIGN
The Government is threatening to devolve the responsibility for attendance allowances to local authorities which is likely to lead to tightened eligibility rules and a postcode lottery. Sign the 38 degrees petition at https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/attendance-allowance-petition .
THE GOVERNMENT DROPPED THIS PLAN IN THE END
WASPI PENSIONS CAMPAIGN
Silver Voices is supporting Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) in their campaign to highlight and resolve the gross anomalies caused by the implementation of the equalisation of the state pension age, affecting over a million women.
Sign their petition on the following link: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/110776
SAVE SOCIAL CARE CAMPAIGN
2016 is the Year we must save social care. One million senior citizens are already denied the help they need to live in dignity in their own homes and the situation is bound to get worse as a result of the huge further cuts in local government spending sneaked out before Christmas. Silver Voices will be working with like minded organisations throughout 2016 to defend social care provision.
MEALS ON WHEELS PETITION
Silver Voices is supporting the petition launched with Meals on Wheels Week calling for the meals on wheels service to be protected as a statutory service. 46,000 older people have had this vital service stripped from them in the last five years.
Sign the petition at: http://www.thenacc.co.uk/events/governmentpetition
RESTORE THE £6 BILLION CUTS IN SOCIAL CARE
Silver Voices is campaigning to persuade the Chancellor to restore the £6 billion cuts in social care that local authorities have been forced to implement since 2010, in his spending review in November. An MPs briefing document has been prepared summarising the extent of the social care crisis, including the fact that nearly one million old people are now being denied the vital help they need to remain with dignity in their own homes. A petition has been launched on the 38 degrees website calling on the Chancellor to restore the £6 billion. You can sign it on https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/social-care-in-crisis-restore-the-ps6-billion-cuts .
SCAMMERS AND SENIOR CITIZENS
Silver Voices has sent out a briefing to members, warning of the dangers faced by senior citizens from scammers, including in respect of pension pots. We also draw attention to the excellent work of the anti-scamming charity Think Jessica www.thinkjessica.com.
Silver Voices has consulted our members on what our initial campaign priorities should be following the General Election. The top six issues emerging from this consultation are: NHS privatisation, the social care crisis, better pay and conditions for home care workers, more affordable supported and special care housing, better treatment of dementia and support for older carers.
Silver Voices has called the election of a majority Tory Government "a disaster for public services and the welfare state". And we won't be able to rely on the opposition parties to mount effective resistance to the huge cuts in public spending and welfare benefits that are on the way. Silver Voices will now redouble our efforts to build a strong campaigning voice for senior citizens over then next few years. We are currently consulting our members on what the priority campaigns should be in the next Parliament. Watch this space!
UNISON'S ETHICAL CARE CAMPAIGN
UNISON is calling on local authorities to sign up to their Ethical Care Charter to tackle both the scandal of home care workers' employment conditions and the growing trend of 15 minute flying care visits to vulnerable old people. You can contact your local councillor on this issue by clicking on this link
NHS PRIVATISATION CONTRACT FOR PRIMARY CARE SUPPORT SERVICES (PCS)
Silver Voices has sent out a briefing to members (10/15) on the plans to privatise all primary care support services in England. PCS employs 1800 people at over 40 locations and administers vital functions such as medical records, test results, recalls, breast and cervical cancer screening. In house NHS bids have been blocked and multinational companies are circling to get their hands on this ten year, £1 billion contract.
Help to stop this privatisation by signing the petition at: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-privatisation-of-nhs-primary-care-support-pcs-services
Our first priority campaign is to build the new organisation up to a critical mass of members so that we can launch petitions, surveys and e-mail campaigns.
So please circulate all your friends, families and networks with the link to the Silver Voices website and urge them to join. Founder members will be kept informed on the progress in building the membership base.
The National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC) has published a Manifesto for the 2015 General Election for use locally with party candidates. It covers improved
state pensions, protecting universal pensioner benefits, a national health and care service and a legally binding Dignity Code (see below).
The manifesto can be accessed on the following link: www.npcuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Pensioners-Manifesto-2015.pdf
The NPC’s Dignity Code highlights the importance of basic human rights in the provision of health and care services for old people. Over 50 local authorities have endorsed the code so far, together with health and care providers, unions, politicians and academics. There is much more work to be done to make the code the essential reference point in any legislation on the enforcement of standards and embedded in all contracts for social care providers.
The Dignity Code is outlined below. Further information on this and other NPC campaigns are available from www.npcuk.org