Future of Social Exclusion Older people and social exclusion now and in the future Paul Cann - Director of Policy and International Affairs Older People’s Social Exclusion Today Material Poverty: • Older people are living in poverty – 25% live below the official poverty line. • Between one fifth and one third do not claim the Minimum Income Guarantee even though they are entitled to it. Fuel Poverty: • 44% of the older population live in accommodation that is not in decent repair or thermally efficient. • Excess winter deaths in the UK total between 20,000 and 40,000 every year. Older People’s Social Exclusion Today Crime: • Nearly a fifth (19%) of people aged 60 or over worry about burglary and 19% worry about "mugging". • 43% of people aged 60 and over feel unsafe walking alone in their area after dark. 10% feel unsafe in their home after dark. Health Inequalities: • The life expectancy of a man aged 65 in the non-skilled manual worker social classification is three years less than his counterpart in the skilled professional group. “Older People” are changing – new demography In the future there will be more older people: • By 2050 nearly a quarter of the population will be of pensionable age. But today longevity remains a class issue: • In 1999 the difference in life expectancy between a man aged 65 in Social Class I and his counterpart in Social Class V was 4.1 years. • For women the gap is even more pronounced. “Older people” are changing - diversity In the future older people will be more ethnically diverse: • 42% of the Black Caribbean population are aged 35-64 – they are tomorrow’s older people. But today black and minority ethnic older people face particular disadvantage: • Help the Aged’s study in deprived areas found 77% of Somali older people living in poverty (compared to 38% of white people). • BME groups are more at risk from crime and report poorer health. “Older people” are changing – households In the future more people will live alone: • It’s estimated that 40% of households in the country will consist of just one person by the end of the decade; But today living alone goes along with living in poverty: • Single people make up the majority of poor pensioners. “Older people” are changing - money In the future people will have smaller pensions: • People are not saving for their retirement – older people in future may be more dependent on the state. • By 2050 the basic state pension will be worth only 7% of average national earnings. But today poverty is a major cause of exclusion: • Poor older people are at greater risk of becoming a victim of crime, and face social isolation. “Older people” are changing – different lives In the future we will be different: • There will be a larger older lesbian, gay and bisexual community. • We will have greater cultural diversity. But today differences divide us: • Community cohesion is breaking down, leading to isolation. • Older people of different cultures and older lesbian gay and bisexual people can be particularly isolated due to social stigma. What is the role for Government? To ensure that social exclusion is not an inevitable part of ageing Tackling Older Exclusion – Where? The older poor may not live in the same places as the younger poor: Help the Aged commissioned Oxford University to identify areas were there were high proportions of older people living on low- incomes. Amongst the top 30 districts, within which there are high levels of deprivation, are several which do classify as Neighbourhood Renewal Areas, these include Blyth Valley, North East Lincolnshire, High Peak and Havant. Tackling Older Exclusion – Addressing Needs • Older people’s needs in the future will be more diverse. • Older people cannot be treated as a single group – their diversity must be acknowledged. • Social exclusion will remain a reality unless these diverse needs can be met. Tackling Older Exclusion – Opportunities In the future older people will have a range of skills: • They will be better qualified – by 2015 the proportion of older people with no or only minimum qualifications will have fallen to 13% from 27.6% in 1995. • They will have broader range of experiences – they will have moved jobs and received more training. But today age discrimination is a real barrier: • 1 in 4 older people say they have experienced it. • The Government must tackle it through equality legislation. Tackling Older Exclusion - Opportunities In the future older people will be healthier: • People will have more healthy years. But health inequalities can leave people excluded: • Age discrimination remains a problem in the health service – there are still age barriers for some services. • The Government is tackling this through the National Service Framework for Older People. Tackling Older Exclusion - Opportunities Older people are an asset to their communities: • Older people show commitment to their communities. • Older people want to give – they are twice as likely to volunteer or help others informally that those under 25. But today this contribution is sometimes ignored: • Official statistics ignore older people’s contribution - The 2001 Census form assumed that no one aged 75 or over worked for money or voluntarily. • The Government must tackle this through the initiatives like the Experience Corps. A key challenge Help the Aged’s study of older people in socially deprived areas was conducted in areas in receipt of Neighbourhood Renewal Funding – but the social exclusion we uncovered amongst older people was pronounced.. WHY? Why are existing efforts to tackle social exclusion failing to reach the older excluded? Pointers for action • Make age equality a reality – an equal approach to all ages across Government policies – education, employment, services, provision. • Make sure policies for social inclusion meet older people’s needs. • Guarantee the means to life – make sure people are entitled to basic means to live and that they get it – we cannot get away from the key issue of material disadvantage as a catalyst to exclusion. • Give older people a real voice to shape policy – make consultation more than just lip service.
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