Category Archives: Equality and Human Rights

Equal access to services

Unlikely as it sounds, a recent 153 page legal decision about VAT returns could  prove to be a turning point in the campaign to get recognition of the needs of many older people when it comes to using online services.

In what’s being hailed as a significant  and closely watched decision,  a judge has upheld the right of three small business owners not to file their VAT returns on line. Two of those who brought the court case have disabilities. The other lives in a remote part of the country without reliable broadband access.200x160_hand-uses-mouse

In her ruling, the judge said it is a breach of the human rights act to require VAT forms to be filed online without exemption for older people, those with disabilities or who live in isolated parts of the country.

For Age UK, the decision is very welcome. Equal access to services not just for older people but everyone, has long been one of our core campaigning goals. Continue reading

Older People’s Human Rights on the agenda at national and global level

At this year’s political party conferences the future of the Human Rights Act (HRA) was a hot topic, with the Conservative Party announcing a manifesto commitment to scrap the HRA and replace it with a British Bill of Rights, while the Liberal Democrats and Labour Party vowed to staunchly defend the status quo.

This debate, which is set to intensify between now and the next general election, tends to focus on a narrow range of human rights issues, namely how the HRA affects groups such as immigrants and prisoners.   What usually gets lost in this debate is the crucial role that human rights can play in the everyday lives of those whose rights are at risk in very different contexts, such as vulnerable older people receiving health or social care.

Last week the Equality and Human Rights Commission published the latest in a series of reports about the human rights of older people who receive care at home. It highlights that funding pressures which result in brief care visits have a devastating effect on both the older people relying on these services as well as the staff forced to choose between rushing visits, leaving early without finishing tasks or running late between clients. For local authorities to meet their human rights obligations and for older people to be assured of dignified and respectful care, the rates paid to care providers must cover the cost of care. Continue reading

Older women’s human rights in the UK – how are we doing?

This blog was contributed by Elizabeth Sclater, Secretary General of the Older Women’s Network, Europe

It’s just over a month since I returned from the UN in Geneva. I was accredited by the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO), one of 40 people representing UK NGOs gathered for four days in July to lobby and support the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Committee members as they ‘examined’ the UK Government’s progress in implementing women’s human rights in the UK. As the only one with a focus on older women, it was important to ensure older age was mainstreamed in all our work, as well as highlighting the continuing and particular human rights challenges we as older women face in the UK. Continue reading

Equal marriage – the Government’s commitment to caring for LGBT people in later life

This blog was contributed by Antony Smith, Development Officer (Equalities and Human Rights) at Age UK.

We achieved another significant milestone for equality over the summer, when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act completed its passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent. It means that, for the first time, every lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) person in this country will enjoy full equality in law.

It can be hard to express how much joy this historic step will bring to the older LGB members of our community in particular, given the isolation, exclusion and discrimination many of them have experienced throughout their lives – from imprisonment and incarceration to losing job, home and family – simply for being lesbian, gay or bisexual. And, of course, we must never forget that it is thanks to the older members of our community, the original campaigners for440x210_two_gay_men social justice, that the UK now enjoys the best legal human rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual (and transgender) people in Europe, according to the International Lesbian and Gay Association. Continue reading