The Director of Silver Voices, Dennis Reed, can be contacted for comment on any issue impacting older people by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Silver Voices is the only independent, UK-wide membership organisation representing older people, and our membership numbers and influence are growing fast.
EXAMPLES OF PRESS RELEASES
30/03/2021 COUNCIL TAX FIGHTBACK ON SOCIAL CARE
As notices of above-inflation council tax rises hit letter boxes, campaign group Silver Voices is planning local fightbacks to highlight the social care crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of older people.
Councils will be raising council tax by up to 5%, at a time when inflation stands at less than 1% and millions of people are on reduced wages and income. They are being forced to do this by the Government to pay for the increased costs of the pandemic and particularly for adult social care. Ironically, however, social care provision by local government continues to be cut and older people are being asked to pay more for a lot less support.
Before the pandemic it is estimated by the charities that 1.6 million older people in the UK were not receiving the social care support they need, and it is likely that this number is now more than 2 million. Local authorities have progressively cut back on social care over the last ten years, as a result of reducing central government funding, and eligibility criteria have been tightened up to exclude all but the most critical cases.
The Government has repeatedly promised to sort out social care ‘once and for all’ but has taken no action. The Budget contained more references to animal care than social care, which gives an idea of the warped priorities facing older people. Local authorities have delivered a decade of social care cuts, with barely a whimper of protest.
Silver Voices is urging its members to rally round those older people who have been denied the support they need, by getting their friends and neighbours to sign letters to the local authority, threatening to stop council tax direct debits unless such cases are reconsidered. Silver Voices wants local authorities, including Tory ones, to ramp up pressure on the Government.
Dennis Reed, Director of Silver Voices said: “The Government has proved itself a serial liar over sorting out the social care crisis. They are responsible if local authorities are not delivering on their duty to support the most vulnerable members of communities. Why should we accept council tax rises at five times the rate of inflation when social care is being rationed? Our action is intended to highlight the realities of the social care crisis, with hundreds of thousands denied the support they need for a dignified old age. A few hours help with dressing, cleaning, bathing and eating would make so much difference in preventing loneliness, neglect and ill-health. The fight back on social care begins now”.
12/12/2020 SENIOR CITIZENS COVID-19 SURVEY
Over 800 members of the over 60s campaign organisation Silver Voices completed an independent survey, conducted through SurveyMonkey, on their opinions about the Government’s Coronavirus measures and their attitudes on issues such as Christmas visits and vaccines. Some of the key findings include:
- 65% of senior citizens judge the performance of the UK Government in suppressing Coronavirus as either “disastrous” (32%) or “poor” (33%)
- The devolved Governments fare a little better, with 39% judging performance “as effective as could have been expected in the circumstances”
- A massive 84% have no confidence that the current restrictions will prevent “a major resurgence of the virus in the New Year, necessitating further lockdowns”
- 72% consider that the measures for the five-day Christmas period are too lax
- 61% will not be mixing indoors with other households over Christmas despite being permitted to do so
- 60% judge that social distancing is not being widely observed in their areas
- By contrast 66% judge that the wearing of face masks is being widely observed in their areas
- 15% will not be taking an anti-virus vaccine, the main reason being “worried about personal safety at this stage” (48%).
Dennis Reed, Director of Silver Voices, who commissioned the survey, commented “As the group most likely to die from Covid-19, the views of our members should be taken very seriously by Governments. There is clearly no confidence in the measures being taken as sufficient to prevent a third wave; and the majority are not going to take advantage of the Christmas break as they consider it too dangerous. There is also a big job to do to convince even this most vulnerable group that being vaccinated is the best option for their health. The verdict of senior citizens on the woeful performance of the Westminster Government is damning, as it should be, with so many older lives lost unnecessarily.”
07/09/2020 CARE HOMES RING OF PROTECTION
ONE IN TEN CARE HOMES RESIDENTS HAVE DIED ALREADY FROM THE PANDEMIC: THEY MUST BE PROTECTED FROM THE SECOND WAVE
Silver Voices, the UK-wide campaign group and membership organisation for older people, has called for a “testing ring of protection” to be thrown around care homes to prevent residents being the “killing ground” for the expected second wave of the virus.
According to official Government statistics, there were 30,000 excess deaths between March and June in care homes in England and Wales, compared to the same period last year. This represents a fairer reflection on the overall impact of the coronavirus pandemic on care homes than other figures. There were about 300,000 older people in care homes in England and Wales before the virus emerged, so one in ten have died as result of the pandemic already.
It is widely accepted that the tragic death toll in care homes was in large part caused by policy blunders, including the lack of PPE, the discharge of thousands of untested hospital patients into care homes and the lack of testing capacity for care homes staff and residents. The Government promised on 3 July that there would be regular testing of all care homes staff and residents, whether or not they had symptoms, but, two months on, this is still not happening. The lack of testing for regular visitors is leading to visits being banned and widespread deterioration in the health of patients with severe dementia, who cannot understand why their loved ones are no longer coming to see them.
Silver Voices is calling on the Government to set a firm early date by which all residents, staff and regular visitors in care homes are guaranteed to have access to local tests on a weekly basis.
Dennis Reed, Director of Silver Voices, said “The Government must start to deliver on its promises of support for care homes, otherwise the homes will again be the killing ground for a second wave of the pandemic. We are calling for a testing ring of protection to be thrown around care homes to protect those most vulnerable to the disease. There is a lot of discussion about ramping up testing in schools, colleges, and airports, but care homes are being neglected once again. At the moment, the spread of the virus is mostly amongst the young, but it is only a matter of time before older and frailer communities become the main victims again. A day in the life of an 80-year-old is just as precious as a day in the life of younger people”.
01/06/2020 BBC WARNED ABOUT DIRECT ACTION CAMPAIGN ON TV LICENCES
Letter sent to BBC Director General:
We are giving notice that from 1 August 2020, unless the decision to curtail free TV licences for the over 75s is withdrawn, we will be calling on all those over 60 years of age across the UK to support our campaign of direct action.
Silver Voices considers that it is callous for the BBC and the Government to leave the threat of introducing licence fees hanging over the heads of millions of senior citizens, many of whom are shielding or in self-isolation for their own protection. TV is often the only constant companion for the over 75s, to provide public information about the pandemic and to keep us in touch with reality. There are already grave concerns from the charities about how mental health is being affected by the lock down and to hit senior citizens with a bill of £157-50 on 1 August will exacerbate feelings of anxiety and desperation. Many older people are already struggling with increased food and medical costs.
You have ignored our pleas for urgent talks with the Government to find ways to continue this essential benefit; and petitions and letter-writing have had no impact. Many of our members over the age of 75 have volunteered to refuse to pay the licence fee, but we do not want them to have to stand alone. Initially therefore, we are calling on all those over the age of 60 to withdraw from direct debit arrangements with TV Licensing and to notify you that, in future, all payments and correspondence about the fee will be conducted by cheque and post.
We hope you will reconsider your position so that these steps are not necessary, and we are available for talks at any time.
Our campaign has been picked up and supported enthusiastically by national newspapers from across the political spectrum as the articles in the Express and Mirror below show.
06/04/2020 GOVERNMENT MUST ACT TO STOP HUGE DEATH TOLL IN CARE HOMES
Silver Voices, the UK-wide membership organisation for older people, is calling on the Government to produce an emergency strategy to stop multiple deaths in care homes from Covid-19. There is growing anger from care home managers and care workers that care homes are being left to fend for themselves, with insufficient protective equipment and no access to testing. The sector is struggling with extreme staff shortages and difficulties in obtaining food and medical supplies. Reports are becoming more frequent of multiple deaths in care homes across the UK in residents who have been suffering from Coronavirus type symptoms. Because no testing is carried out in care homes, these deaths are not being recorded as Covid-19 deaths, therefore depressing the national mortality statistics. Patients are being discharged from hospitals, often without being tested, to free up beds, at great risk to both the hospital patient and the care home.
Dennis Reed, the Director of Silver Voices, said “The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care appears to have no national strategy to support the second strand of his responsibilities. The NHS is being given exclusive priority over testing, PPE, staff returning to work and volunteers. There are nearly half a million of the most vulnerable section of the population in care homes and if the virus is allowed to rip through them, with the present lack of support, the death toll will be colossal”.
09/03/2020 CORONAVIRUS: CALL FOR EMERGENCY REGISTERS OF VULNERABLE PEOPLE
Silver Voices, the membership organisation for senior citizens, has called for every local authority to set up an emergency virus register for isolated vulnerable people in their localities.
Dennis Reed, Director of Silver Voices stated, “we are really worried that the country is unprepared for a coronavirus epidemic. Millions of older people live alone and are socially isolated and it is these people whose lives are the most at risk from this virus. Many will struggle to access online information and could run short of vital supplies of food and medicines. Local authorities should now be setting up emergency committees to prepare for an epidemic to coordinate work with health trusts, social care providers, the public utilities and the voluntary sector. A register should be set up in every locality of isolated and vulnerable people in the community. Families and neighbours should be able to propose people for inclusion on such registers. Regular tabs should then be kept on the health and welfare of these individuals using an army of public service workers and volunteers”.
18/02/2020 CALL TO BBC TO DELAY SCRAPPING OF FREE LICENCES
Silver Voices, the membership organisation for the over 60s, is calling on the BBC to change its tune on free TV licences and to delay implementing the policy until its financial position is clear.
Dennis Reed, the Director of Silver Voices, said
“The Government has changed the playing field on the BBC’s finances by consulting on decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee and threatening to abolish the licence altogether. The BBC is now fully entitled to push back and call on the Government to take back responsibility for this universal benefit. In the meantime, the BBC should win back the support of its most loyal viewers by deferring the withdrawal of free licences, so that further talks can take place with Government”.
Silver Voices has asked for a meeting with the BBC to discuss this call. Our proposal to ‘gum up the works’ if the BBC presses ahead with the policy on 1 June, has received widespread support from older people and will be effective in ensuring that the cost of enforcement is greater than the income received.
14/1/20 SOCIAL CARE CRISIS
Boris Johnson continues to talk big on social care but delay action. He lied about there being a “clear plan” for social care outside Downing Street on his first day in office. Then after his Party won the election, he promised that cross party talks would start within the first 100 days of his Government to resolve the social care crisis. Now, in an interview with the BBC he says, “we will bring forward a plan this year and we will get it done within this Parliament”. So, he is giving himself five years to sort out a crisis where 1.4 million older people are already not getting the support they need.
Dennis Reed, Director of Silver Voices, commented, “Boris Johnson has promised that no senior citizen will in future have to sell their home to pay for their care. But an average of 50 older people a day are being forced to do just that now. In five years, if that is how long it takes, nearly 100,000 people will have found that this promise was worthless”.
Silver Voices protests with Age UK outside Tory HQ in London about the scrapping of free TV licences for the over 75s
SILVER VOICES SURVEY ON A NO PAY CAMPAIGN BY THE OVER 75s WAS A FRONT PAGE STORY IN THE DAILY MIRROR IN 2019