Concern over Brexit impact on older people

Charity warns UK Government urgently needs to provide reassurance on healthcare, immigration & pensions

Thursday 5th September 2019

The UK Government needs to urgently address “unanswered questions” about the impact of Brexit on older people in Scotland, a charity has warned.

A new report from Age Scotland raises ten key concerns about uncertainty over issues including possible shortages of food and medication and additional pressures on health and social care services.

Thousands of older people living in Scotland, and Scottish citizens abroad, could also be plunged into limbo over their immigration status, with many unable to complete the required paperwork in time, the charity says.

There are an estimated 8,360 people aged 65 and over from other EU countries currently living in Scotland.

But the report warns many will struggle to apply for the EU settlement scheme – which allows them to remain in the UK – by the due date, if they have problems with health issues such a dementia.

Older Scottish people living in the EU also face uncertainty over their residency and healthcare rights in the event of a no-deal Brexit and may not be able to afford to buy private health insurance, for example.

Age Scotland says if they choose to return to the UK following Brexit, they will need swift access to housing, care and other support.

The Government is also being urged to ensure that older people who have pensions or savings in a different EU country can easily access their money.

The report highlights concerns some businesses have stopped selling pension annuities to UK citizens resident abroad, as they would have to apply for permission with each EU member state to do so.

Like other charities and medical groups, Age Scotland has also warned of the impact of Brexit on the health service, highlighting issues such as potential recruitment problems and the risk to supply of medicines and medical equipment.

The report adds: “It is particularly important that there is no disruption to the flu vaccination programme which typically begins about the same time as the UK is currently scheduled to leave the EU at the end of October.”

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said the charity had “serious concerns” about the impact of Brexit on Scotland’s older and most vulnerable people.

He said: “There are too many unanswered questions that the UK Government urgently needs to address.”