The shocking story of the Nottingham man, aged 66, whose poverty meant he was living in appalling conditions highlights an Age UK survey that showed a third of people aged 60 and over were worried about their heating bills.
It seems to this observer that the divisions between rich and poor get greater for those in older age.
The older rich can buy a satisfactory standard of living, can call on friends and family willing, if not happy, to help them.
The older poor are all too often isolated, lonely, confused and fearful and as a result live in increasingly desperate conditions.
An earlier blog described the baby boomers who were now planing for a better quality end of life experience as ‘superior seniors’. This definition now seems all too apt as it implies superiority and inferiority, or in this context, haves and have nots.
The blog also warned that the Big Society would ignore ‘superior seniors’ at its peril, pointing out that vociferous baby boomers, used to getting what they wanted, would complain loudly if excluded from Cameron’s ‘big tent’.
But who hears the voice of those less fortunate senior citizens who missed out on the baby boomers’ boom times and whose later years are spent alone, poor and without any influence?
This is where Age UK must ensure its campaign against poverty in retirement is successful by publicising the plight of the large number of society’s impoverished senior members.
If the Big Society is to succeed, the poor elderly must be included, but this will present the Government with a major problem. The Big Society’s mission is to create a fairer country in which we all feel a sense of belonging without the impedence of complex legislation and bureaucratic administration.
But with two million of those in retirement not having enough money to cover basic food and fuel bills, let alone enjoy retirement, this will be a major redistribution of wealth requiring more than community self-help and middle class goodwill.
As those who stand to benefit - the isolated and poor elderly - have the least powerful voice and are easiest to ignore, their membership of the Big Society is by no means certain.
Those aware of the scale of the problems faced by the poor elderly must ensure they aren’t excluded from the coalition’s vision of how our society will be improved.
And you baby boomers, now affluent, influential and articulate, should remember that in your youth you campaigned for a fairer and more just society.
You now have just as important a cause to support and that is reducing the shocking and scandalous divide between the rich and poor older members of our socity.
You didn’t look away when you were teenagers…don’t ignore the suffering of your contemporaries now.