To: Theresa May
DON'T ABOLISH ATTENDANCE ALLOWANCE
Please don't abolish Attendance Allowance
Why is this important?
The government is drawing up plans to abolish attendance allowance (AA). Attendance allowance is a benefit payable to people over the age of 65 who have care needs, including difficulties with everyday tasks such as dressing and washing. This money can make all the difference between living and existing.
Thanks to attendance allowance, older people with conditions like arthritis can pay for cleaners or someone to help with the shopping. It goes towards extra heating, or running a car. It’s not just about budgeting: they also gain some company from hiring help, and can pay for transport to get them out of the house.
Without the benefit, many people will no longer be able to travel for their shopping, so they may be forced to use more expensive shops nearby. It will be harder for them to keep their homes clean. They’ll be faced with greater isolation. And loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health: research shows that lacking social connections is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad, 2010). All this may pose a hazard to both their physical and their mental health - and end up creating more of a strain on medical and social services.
A 73 year old man I know was diagnosed with throat and larynx cancer and faced increasing immobility. He was unable to walk to local shops just 250 yards away without either stopping for a break every few yards or being taken by a friend. For longer distances, he had to travel by taxi. It was his attendance allowance which allowed him to pay for taxis and get out of the house in spite of his illness.
Since then, he has been in hospital undergoing a tracheotomy and laryngectomy. He is considerably weaker than when he was admitted to hospital and will not be able to look after his home in the way that was once able. He will require the services of a cleaner and a carer to help him prepare meals, neither of which he would be able to afford without his Attendance Allowance.
The government claims that local authorities will step in to fill the gap in provision created by scrapping attendance allowance. But in the face of sweeping cuts imposed on their budgets, local authorities may find that administering such an allowance is beyond their means. What guarantees will there be that local authorities will have sufficient funds to match the current rates?
This is yet another swipe at the most vulnerable in our society, potentially depriving them of a quality of life that Attendance Allowance helps to provide.
N.B.: Just to clarify this will not affect current claimants. The changes are planned to affect claimants from 2018 onwards.