Febraury 14, 2007
The Morning Star reported, in November 2005, about the scourge of poverty that has been inflicted upon thousands of British people since the Labour Party took power in 1997.
The article was prompted by a report from the British Pensioners convention, who reported that "1.5 million elderly people are malnourished or at serious risk of malnourishment."
In 2004, the Department of Work and Pensions published a document which detailed the fact that in Britain, some "2.2 million pensioners were living below the poverty line". This figure represents the same amount of pensioners in poverty, as when the Labour Party took power in 1997.
In 2003-4, 22,000 people over the age of 65 died as a result of the cold, with the physical isolation of many British elderly people, often being the cause behind malnutrition, dehydration and hypothermia - thus leading to hospitalisation.
The isolation of the elderly has resulted with, according to Age Concern: "1.6 million pensioners seeing their children once a month and 603,000 of that number seeing their children less than every six months."
That same year, there was the much-publicised death of 79-year-old Ivy Allen, who having been left penniless and isolated, had been left, quite literally, to starve to death, first and foremost because her front door had not been fitted with a letterbox and so her pension was returned to the benefits agency.
One newspaper reported that "none of her 10 children, 30 grandkids, social services or pensions officials noticed she was dying at her home."
It has been estimated that pensioners save the State around "£24 billion pounds a year by providing unpaid social and child care". Britain also has an estimated six million home care workers, who are often looking after elderly family members and friends or young children.
They offer the State a tidy saving on care, receiving a state allowance of only £45.50 per week with Britain saving a staggering "£660 million" a year through unclaimed carers benefits.
With less than one-third of home carers being assessed by social services and "three in every five people becoming a carer at some point in time", Carers UK published the fact that "one in five carers has to cut back on food" and "one in three have trouble paying utility bills."
This is partly due to the fact that "four out of 10 carers find the level of charges for services cause added financial difficulties" and "one in three" carers have no savings at all.
Carers UK claimed that financial difficulties have resulted in damage to carers' health, with carers being "twice as likely to develop mental health problems if they provide substantial care". In 2005, a reported "316,000 carers in the UK" described themselves as being "permanently sick or disabled."
In January 2006, the Macmillan Cancer Relief charity reported that cancer patients were having to cut back on gifts, food and festive outings, over the Christmas period due to "costs associated with their illness". The added "costs" included extra money for heating, traveling to hospital for treatment and the car parking charges on arrival.
Macmillan also claimed that around "16 per cent of patients had been forced to borrow money from friends and family", "13 per cent had taken out loans and 12 per cent had extended their overdrafts."
A spokesman for the charity also reported that some cancer patients had even "cancelled Christmas"; due to the heavy costs incurred in the run up and over the Christmas season.
The British charity Shelter is currently petitioning the Labour government in response to a shocking "3.4 million children in the UK" living in poverty, with "one in 10 children" still living in overcrowded housing, which is apparently enough to "fill the new Wembley Stadium 10 times over."
Shelter has also reported that "27 per cent of overcrowded families have children sleeping in living rooms or dining rooms". "Bad housing makes our children ill and robs them of a decent education."
One Manchester based home care assistant, who works for a sub-contracted Social Services agency, informed me that he is currently getting paid around £7.20 per day, to provide care to an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s and is also expected to prepare two healthy meals a day and do some slight domestic work.
Please also see:
Shelter - The Housing and Homelessness Charity
The Carers Association UK
The National Pensioners Convention