This blog was contributed by Tom Wright CBE, Chief Executive of Age UK
I spoke at the Conservative party conference in Manchester this week about our ageing society, alongside Oliver Letwin MP, Daniel Poulter MP and our ambassador Diana Moran. This was part of Age UK’s work across the three main political party conferences.
It was an opportunity to voice our expectations of the Government and emphasise the contribution that older people make to our society.
I’m sure you will all agree that it is great news that the population is ageing well and living longer – it is one of the best achievements of this century. We must not see ageing a burden but as a contribution to our society.
We need to make it easier for older people to contribute. The removal of the Default Retirement Age means older people can no longer be prevented from working simply on the grounds of age. It is also important that we recognise the importance of volunteering and the contribution that older people make in their communities. At Age UK we have 70,000 volunteers of which three quarters are older people.
In my response I set out three issues that the Government and the party could deliver and which could transform the lives of older people by 2015:
- Abolish pensioner poverty by overhauling the means tested state pensions system and create a universal pension of £140 paid to all.
- Implement reform of social care, to end the unfairness of the current social care system.
- Older people being valued and contributing to society so that their experience can be used to shape their communities.
Other contributors to this debate had interesting things to say. Daniel Poulter pledged that the Government would address the underfunding of care; this is a key issue for Age UK. We are calling for the Government to take action to reform our care system by acting on the recommendations of the Dilnot’s Commission’s report on the Funding of Care and Support.
From a personal point of view, Diana Moran spoke about the needs of an ageing population. She said that it was important that different services worked together and that individuals were given the information they need to stay independent. Diana felt that this was particularly important for people who are less fortunate and less well.
At Age UK we very much agree; we must work together if we are going to make our country a better place to grow old. We are all living longer; let’s make the most of it together