Tuesday, 08 March 2011

Social care provided by older people is worth £34 billion WRVS have published distinctive research into the socio-economic contribution of older people in the UK. The report, Gold age pensioners, claims that people over 65 made a net contribution to the UK economy of £40 billion last year, even allowing for the costs of pensions, welfare and health services. 'This equates to just over £100 million per day, challenging the widely held view that older people progressively become a burden and a drain on society.' The hidden value of older people’s volunteering is said to be worth £10 billion per year. Provision of social care by older people is worth £34 billion, predicted to grow to £52 billion by 2030. The contributions range from leadership or high levels of membership of local clubs and societies, to informal support looking out for vulnerable neighbours and helping them stay independent for longer. ‘Sixty-five per cent of older people regularly help out elderly neighbours – and are the most likely of all adult age groups to do so.’ ‘Older people are very often the driving force for local community-based organisations, with active retirees combining their expertise, skills and experience to provide the leadership, as well as a disproportionate quantum of the membership, of many local organisations, groups and societies.’ I was told about this report yesterday while I was at a drop-in session for older people (part of our Neighbourhoods Connect project in Haringey) - at more or less the same time as one of the participants was saying: 'You can come here and make people cheery; and if you can do that, it makes you cheery too'.
So remind me, what was the problem with multiculturalism? I'm a month late getting to it, but am more than happy to draw attention belatedly to this tidy post about multi-culturalism by the dependable Rob Berkeley. If like me you've been suspicious as to why people of influence have been trying to put the boot into multiculturalism, it's worth a read. Or even if you haven't. As he notes, the term simply means 'the existence and recognition of different identities in a shared political space within a framework of human rights.' Ah, maybe that's why our leaders don't like it? Doh, it's about power, innit. Berkeley notes: 'Mr Cameron may find that policies that: • Remove the poor from housing in affluent areas; • Deter students from poorer backgrounds from entering university; • Create constituencies that disenfranchise the third of black and Asian people not on the electoral register; • Increase youth unemployment (which is already double that of white communities for Pakistani youth); or • Increase tension between black and Asian young people and the police …do not help in creating meaningful or positive contact between people from different backgrounds. Similarly, a patchy commitment to human rights, whether votes for prisoners, detention of children and the suggestion last week from Policy Exchange that we withdraw from the European Convention, cannot help in establishing what core values we expect from each other and our relationship with the state.'

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