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Provided by Mae Stewart, Editor UNISON Retired members Newsletter, Dundee, Perth and Angus.
Please note that this is not definitive information about benefits but will provide a signpost as to where to get up to date information. Please check the sources first. UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.

Issue 8 Jan/Feb 2005

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Report on a talk given by
Scott Bricknall, of Tayside Fire Service
To Unison Dundee & Angus Retired Members

Referring to recent deaths in Aberdeen and Glasgow and the recent Old Folks Home disaster, he felt some deaths were readily avoidable.  Post Fire Service strike, the Government created new fire safety liaison officers. He himself is for Dundee and there is someone for Angus.

Amongst his duties he visits schools with the aim of advising those who might get into cars and go racing with the possibilities of being involved in a Road Traffic Accident.

Prevention of Fire Safety rather than fighting fires is the top priority now.  Scott covers Shopping Centres, Schools, Football matches, Commercial property and Cinemas etc.
33% of fires are electrical in cause.
19% by cooking.
7% careless disposal [i.e. cigarettes etc] often main cause of fire in home.
8% clothes etc. e.g. to near heater.
3% candles/naked flames [though he personally felt this might rise in future due to the modern popularity of candles].
28% malicious or other causes.  Targeting schools about hoax calls and dangers of aerosol cans.

In the home you need a Fire Action plan to enable you and/or your family, to get out alive.
Recently there have been two fatalities among crew due to malicious intervention.
Provide early warning i.e. smoke alarms.

If kids get toys at Christmas without batteries: DO NOT TAKE BATTERY from the SMOKE ALARM!

Alarms must be 7 metres from kitchen.  Usual excuse for non-working alarm is often ‘It goes off when I'm making my tea'.

Ideally is should be in a hallway between bedrooms and living room (about 3 metres) make sure it has a British Standard Kite Mark possible B S 5446.  Two types of alarms are available.  Ionisation [which smell smoke] or optical [which has a beam that smoke breaks and then sets off].  Test your alarm once a week by pressing the button.  Once a year change the battery and do clean it periodically with the vacuum cleaner as it does accumulate dust.  Pick a memorable date such as an anniversary or birthday to change the battery. Scott has pointed out that officers will come and test, or give advice, and can fit fire alarms for us if we don't have one, or are unsure.

Ensure your fire action plan and evening routine is well known. DO NOT LEAVE THINGS ON STANDBY.  TVs will go on fire.  Empty ashtrays outside every night. 

It takes 2 engines, 10 fire fighters and 100 gallons of water to put out one cigarette.

Use a metal pail or bin or add cold water.  Cigarettes are not good for your health it can kill, and burn down your home.  Close your doors.  The average closed door takes about 20 minutes to burn.  Last year a cracker on a Christmas tree being ignited by a fairy light caused a fire. A film showed the room was well alight in 33 seconds.

Make sure access to windows is clear.  Place a duvet or towel etc at the bottom of closed door and get to window.  DO NOT JUMP OUT!  If upstairs, Brigade will get to you if you called.  Average response time for Dundee is 4 minutes.  Keep exits and hallway clear of clutter, bikes, prams, toys etc.
Rehearse and make sure everyone in family knows what to do in emergency.
Everyone in one room.  Plan 2 if that exit is blocked.  Stairs etc.  If everyone is in one room and accounted for and door closed with mobile phone or landline in bedrooms, get to window and fresh air, and all should be saved.  Door should protect for 20 minutes. 

They are trying to get Government to bring in legislation for new build homes to have sprinklers incorporated.  Damage is considerably lessened by comparison of the amount of water the Brigade would pour on to fight the fire that could have been quenched right away by a sprinkler system. 

A short question and answer session followed and we were informed to change smoke alarm completely after 10 years and that there had been a problem with Candy dishwashers. Advice about chip pan fires was now to leave it and call the professionals, as R.O.S.P.A. had reported people getting burns with trying to put it out with dishcloths.  Don't throw water over a burning chip pan! 

He showed us a particularly graphic video, which had just been shown to schools that morning about car racing with the inevitable result to bring home the message that SPEED KILLS.

A very informative afternoon folks.  If you would like the fire service' advice about your Alarms and Escape plans give us your telephone number and we will pass it along. 

We gave a donation to a Children's Burns Charity, as he was not allowed to accept donation for Fire Service Bereavement Fund.

Our Chairperson had a video about the Central Heating Upgrade for the over 60's. If you haven't applied for that yet try it.  A smoke alarm is also fitted into the mains as part of the package.

Ruth Wardill


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Have You Claimed Your Over 65 Tax Allowance?

Did you know that when you reach 65 years of age you are now entitled to extra tax allowances? The application form should be sent to you, but you must fill out the form and return it to the tax office so that they can allocate your extra age allowance.

For those of you who have not already done so, I'm enclosing the name of a booklet provided by the Inland Revenue called ‘Income Tax and Pensioners'. Reference number IR121

This is a very handy booklet to have so that you know your entitlements. [You know - the ones you worked all your life for]

Leaflets are available at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk

And from any Inland Revenue Office or Enquiry Centre.

Most offices are open to the public from 8.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

Local addresses are in your local telephone book under ‘Inland Revenue', and at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/local or
0845 9000 404 between 8.00am - 10.00pm. [calls charged at local rate]

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Warmth and Comfort all Year Round
From Age Concern and Powergen.

[This information is specifically for people over 60 years of age]

Age Concern has teamed up with Powergen to offer a home energy package called Age Concern Energy Services. It combines our 60-year's experience in understanding the needs and priorities of older people with the knowledge and expertise of one of the UK's leading energy suppliers.

Age Concern Energy Services is uniquely designed to ensure you receive a personal service all year round, and a fairer deal on your home energy costs, so the cost of keeping warm need not be a concern.

Exclusive cold weather payment.

All gas customers aged 60 and over receive an exclusive cold weather payment that is in addition to those from the Government. Our payment gives you about two extra hours of gas fire heating each day during the coldest winter days.

Competitive gas and electricity prices: You'll find our prices competitive with other suppliers; in fact if you currently take gas from British Gas and electricity from Scottish Power we could save you £90 a year.

Other options:

  • Simple Bills & Payments Options
  • Free Energy Efficiency Advice
  • Free carbon monoxide detectors and thermometer.
  • Two free Low Energy Light Bulbs.
  • Discount on Energy Saving Items.

For more information on how to take advantage of this offer, and see how much you could save, you can either call us free anytime on 0800 056 8504, or visit your local Age Concern office [number in local telephone book]


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Income Tax & Pensioners

This is a booklet issues by the Inland Revenue specifically for Pensioners queries.

Having scanned this booklet I think it would be a most useful thing to have at home.

Office hours are between 8.30am - 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. Booklet reference: IR121

Telephone/Textphone: 0845 9000 404

Fax: 0845 9000 604

Email: saorderlone.ir@gtnet.gov.uk


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NHS 24

Next time you are in your doctors surgery or the library you can pick up this leaflet on NHS 24.

This is the new round the clock health advice and support.

This leaflet tells you how to operate the new system. Its also provides you with a card to put in your wallet/purse so that you can carry it with you, or put it beside your telephone. I have mine in a wee book next to the phone.

If you cannot get one of these leaflets then contact your surgery, or email NHS 24 on: www.nhs24.com

For advice on health matters you can call NHS Direct anytime and speak to a qualified nurse. You don't need to wait until you are ill, the service is there to keep you healthy as well.

The phone number is 0845 4647, and local call charges apply


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Dundee CSN [Consumer Network Support]

I picked up this leaflet for our Dundee members. But if you live up at Angus and cannot get this information, then contact your local council, as it might be an idea for them.

This useful wee leaflet gives comprehensive advice on issues about what to do if you buy faulty goods, or faulty building work has been carried out on your home, for example. It also supplies contacts of names and addresses where you can enquire about various issues surrounding consumer information.

You can pick this leaflet up at your local council offices or you can email them and request information at:



Mae Stewart

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Dundee Senior Citizen's News

Once again, I picked up this newsletter at my doctor's surgery in Dundee, so it may not be available to our Angus members, but I am sure that the numbers apply to us all, and may be usual to everyone.

This newsletter was full of information about winter fuel payments. How to keep warm in winter. For example:

The recommended temperature for keeping your home warm is 21.C [70.F], but you may be comfortable at a higher temperature. If the temperature falls below 16.C [61.F] you could be at risk of suffering hypothermia, a heart attack, or a stroke.

For advice on grants which may be available for improving insulation and heating your home, contact:

Dundee Pensioners Forum on: 01382 - 826364

Alternatively If you have any questions about the best way to keep warm and healthy during the winter months call the Winter Warmth Advice line on: 0800 085 7000

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Scottish Helpline for Older People

Excerpt below taken from information given by Age Concern Scotland.

Nowadays the information people need is in so many places that people find it difficult to get it all.

The helpline is all about gathering information, and letting you know what you need to know, when you need to know it, in a way you can use it.

For example:

  • Who can help me claim pension credit?
  • Where can I find out about holidays for older people?
  • Where can I get a key safe?
  • What does free personal care mean for me?
  • How do I get help for my mum - she can't get around as well as she used to?
  • Don't Know Where to Turn?

We can help you. Our service is an independent and confidential helpline. We're dedicated to providing you with an effective answer to your questions - and where we ` don't know, we'll try to find you another service who can help.

Joint Working:

We are working with organizations like the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Scottish Pensioners Forum, Alzheimer Scotland Action on Dementia, and many more to bring this new service, ready to listen to older people and those who work with or for older people.

Our goal is to ensure that every older person in Scotland has access to the same high quality information.

Hours of opening are between 10.00am - 4pm Mondays to Fridays.Telephone: 0845 125 9732Textphone: 0845 226 5851 Email: enquiries@ascot.org.uk

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Driving Licenses for the Over 70's - FREE of Charge

If you are aged 70 or over, you can now apply to the ‘Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency [DVLA] to renew your license free of charge.

The DVLA will send you a renewal form shortly before your driving license is due to end. People aged 70 and over must reapply for a driving license and fill in a questionnaire every three years to make sure they are medically fit to drive.

Or you can telephone the DVLA on 0870 240 0009.

Lines are open from 8.00am - 8.30pm Monday to Friday, and 8.00am - 5.30pm on Saturdays.

A textphone service is also available for people who have difficulties with their hearing or speech on: 01792 782787

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Free Passports for the Over 75's

The Home Secretary has announced that people aged over 75 will be eligible for a free passport.

The new ruling that came into effect at the beginning of November 2004 means that everyone born before 2nd September 1929 will not have to pay for a new passport.

The move was made in recognition of the sacrifices made by World War veterans and civilians.

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Council Tax Review Announced

Help the Aged and Age Concern has announced an independent review of local government finance in Scotland following a campaign

A short-term working group will undertake an independent review of the current Council Tax System.

A survey carried out by Help the Aged found that at present the average single pensioner and pensioner couple spend significantly more than 10% of their monthly income on Council Tax.

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Pension Service Information

Talk given by Jim Grandison, Local Service Liaison Officer, who is based in Perth and Kinross, and Frances Divine, Local Service Liaison Officer, based in Angus.

The Pension Service, formerly the DHSS, employs both these officers.

The Pension Service deals with people who are over the age of 60, and is the benefit paying arm of the Government. They deal with; winter allowances, State Pension, and Pension Credit.

This service came into being in April 2002, and was centralized from local offices. There is a processing center in Dundee, but this office has no public access.

The contact service mirrors the local authority, i.e. Dundee, Angus, and Perth boundaries.

They can visit people in their homes, or talk to groups, as they were doing at our meeting. Also you can make an appointment and visit a local surgery at appointed times.

You must telephone for an appointment before you go to these surgeries.

There are three types of benefits: State Pension Retirement [National Insurance Benefit]

Purely health Related

Income & Capital Related.

State benefit depends on what service you have accumulated throughout your life, and is based on your

entire working life. [39 years to get state pension]

Attendance Allowance is for the over 65's who require help with personal care, and is purely health


Disability Living Allowance is the same as attendance allowance but for the under 65s, and has a

mobility element, which you do not have with attendance allowance.

Mobility issues are dealt with by a separate agency.

Both our speakers emphasised the importance of picking up any benefits that are due to us.

Other telephone numbers were: You May be Due More Money - to find out:

01241 - 446076 Angus

01382 - 313603 Dundee

01738 - 412138 Perth & Kinross

The above are only pointers about what was a very interesting afternoon's talk. Some of the information has been already printed in previous newsletters, but what came over loud and clear is that if you are in any doubt at all, then you should contact the Pension Service and check out the situation.

You never know, you might just not be getting all the benefits you have worked for over all these years, and there's only one way to find out. Pick up the phone!

My apologies for any misquotes or mis-information.
Mae Stewart