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Older people face isolation over council cuts

Nearly 100 subsidised bus services have been cut since 2011. Image: Alan Sansbury

Nearly 100 subsidised bus services have been cut since 2011. Image: Alan Sansbury

Elderly people in Wales are at risk of “unseen levels of isolation and loneliness” as councils cut services they need, a charity has warned.

Age Cymru released figures today showing that 41,000 people aged 65 are constantly struggling with loneliness, with 146,000 saying it’s an issue they often struggle with.

Two thirds of people surveyed said they feared loneliness as they aged.

Ian Thomas, Age Cymru‘s Chief Executive argued that cuts must be sustainable. He said: “With our ageing population, it is vital that we are able to provide services that meet the needs of older people – both today and in the future.”

Older people in particular rely on services like regular buses, door to door transport, public toilets, libraries and day centres, all of which face curtailment across Wales as cash-strapped councils struggle to cope with funding cuts.

A Freedom of Information request to 19 councils across Wales recently discovered that 93 subsidised bus services have been cut since 2014, after a 25 per cent drop in government funding.

But other services are also under threat.

Powys Council today makes its final budgets decisions after pledging to make savings of £40 million over the next three years, following a survey in which residents strongly opposed plans to close day centres and reduce wheels on meals service.

The council attracted significant controversy after proposing to raise the charge on day centres from £6 to £35 per day.

Protesters face an uphill struggle to protect existing services as councils can slash existing services to the levels set out as the basic statutory requirement for councils.

This comes following a report by the older people’s commissioner for Wales Sarah Rochira, who said older people were facing the “devastating impact” from the loss of public services on their lives.

“These services are not luxuries – they are essential to the maintenance of older people’s health, independence and well-being.

“These services should be seen as essential community assets.”

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