5. A Thriving Third Age
Action 47 – Help older people who want to keep working. The Scottish Government has taken a number of steps to support older people in and into work. We published independent research in August, from Edinburgh University, to investigate the attitudes of older people towards extended employment and whether there were barriers they felt they had to overcome. This research aimed to improve our evidence base for taking actions to encourage older people to work longer but also help them achieve a good balance between their employment and other important aspects of their lives. We are also working with employers to raise awareness of and encourage fair work practices that will benefit all workers. We also promote and encourage employers to adopt flexible working initiatives that will allow older workers to accommodate health and care commitments as they age and assist them in pre and post retirement planning. We fund the Family Friendly Working Scotland Partnership and the Carer Positive Awards scheme to support this - and our action is being backed up by the other flexible working actions in the previous section of this report.
New: We will strengthen Community Sport Hubs, improving opportunities for older people in care to be physically active and ensuring Scotland becomes the first 'Daily Mile' nation.
Action 48 – Help older people claim the financial support they are entitled to. We said in our 2016 action plan that if every person entitled to pension credit and council tax reduction claimed these benefits, poverty levels amongst older people would be much lower than they are now. To help with that, throughout October 2017 we ran a marketing campaign to raise awareness amongst older people, which included other benefits they may be entitled to. Following on from that campaign, Citizens Advice Bureaux will be offering a programme of Financial Health Checks targeted at older people in late 2017, which is the first element of a wider programme. The health check will offer a personalised service to maximise older people's incomes, and signpost to any specialist advice services they may need, such as energy provision advice.
Action 49 – Help older people on lower incomes with Council Tax payments. Our reform of council tax bands in April 2017 did not affect the three quarters of Scottish households that live in bands A to D. Those in bands E to H now pay more, but we have extended the Council Tax Reduction scheme so that those on middle incomes (up to £25,000 a year) living in properties in bands E to H are protected from the recent changes to council tax bands. This support will provide many pensioner households, living in band E to H properties, with additional support so that they do not pay more.
Action 50 – Improve the current system of funeral payments. We want to help more people with funeral costs, so that the system is more predictable and gives help more quickly. We've taken a range of action already.
The Social Security Bill, as introduced to Parliament on 20 June 2017, will create a new Scottish Funeral Expense Assistance benefit, which will replace the DWP Funeral Payment benefit and start in 2018. We have set up a stakeholder reference group to help us develop the new benefit.
In the autumn of 2016, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities hosted three round table stakeholder engagement events, as well as a National Conference on funeral poverty which involved the funeral industry, local authorities, third sector organisations and others. In August 2017, the Cabinet Secretary also launched a ' Funeral Costs Plan' publication setting out 10 key actions the Scottish Government will take to help tackle funeral poverty and make more affordable funeral options available and a ' Planning My Own Funeral' leaflet to help inform people how they can make their own arrangements for their funeral. The Scottish Government also provided funding for CAS to develop an e-Learning module 'Planning for Death' for their advisors to help people avoid funeral poverty.
A pilot of the Scottish Funeral Bond will be launched by autumn 2020. We are planning for our Funeral Bond to be an incentivised savings product, and we have begun initial discussions with stakeholders including credit unions to determine the best way to deliver this.