Following the recent local elections, the Liberal Democrats will want to raise their profile within the coalition and show that they still have influence at a policy making level. One positive outcome of this appears to be the announcement this week of a new pensioner material deprivation indicator.
On Monday morning at the DWP, Pensions Minister Steve Webb explained that the new indicator would capture wider elements of everyday life that are key indicators of older people’s experiences.
While income is a good indicator of deprivation among all age groups, the aim is to take a more rounded view of the difficulties faced by older people. This, in turn, should help government and third sector organisations to identify the most vulnerable and pilot ways to tackle social isolation.
The new material deprivation indicator will make use of a set of goods, services and experiences to capture low standards of living and is designed to complement existing income-based measures.
The indicator uses a set of 15 goods, services and experiences that are judged to be the best discriminators of deprivation. These include whether someone can replace a cooker, take a holiday away from home or go out socially at least once a month.
Older people are asked if they have the items and, if not, why. The responses are then used to judge if they are materially deprived.
Later this month Age UK, along with the DWP, will be hosting an event that will begin to explore how an alliance of organisations can come together and make a commitment to action in response to the challenge of achieving social inclusion and realising the full potential of older people. The aim will be to create wider opportunities for older people to engage and participate in civil society. The launch of the new indicator is therefore timely, as it will potentially provide a mechanism for measuring the success of the alliance.
There is still a great deal of work to be done, but if we are to challenge age discrimination and promote equality, then an alliance to tackle social inclusion is an important first step.