I was very pleased to see in the budget this week that Alistair Darling gave a substantial increase to the winter fuel allowance, £250 from £200 for the over-60s, and from £300 to £400 for those above the age of 80. This will benefit 9 million pensioners. Older people should be valued and the Labour Party recognises that.
Free bus travel in England is on its way. Pensioners and disabled people in England are to get free off-peak bus travel anywhere in the country which I think is a wonderful thing to get older people out. The government are investing £250m a year for the scheme.
Alan Johnson, the health secretary has said plans would be unveiled to let elderly married couples live together in residential care as when a couple have lived all their lives together they should not be forced apart at the end of their lives.
Labour’s new strategy Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods
Includes new standards for all new homes from 2013, meaning that developments are age-friendly and incorporate 16 key features such as wider doors, improved bathroom design and staircases big enough to facilitate stair lifts.
From 2011 all new social housing will be built to the ‘lifetime homes’ standard.
Additionally to support older people in their current homes, a national rapid repair and adaptations service will be backed by £33 million in investment to enable an extra 125,000 people every year to get repairs and changes to their home, allowing them to live independently.
It’s great to see so many initiatives coming from the Labour government to help our older folk.
In stark contrast, locally in Leeds where we have a coalition of Tories and Lib dems running the council, they are hitting the most vulnerable in our communities again in their budget by increasing meals on wheels charges, home help charges and cutting vital home help for hundreds of our older people as well as putting council tax up to at least a whopping 4.7%.