Ban on Age Discrimination

This blog was contributed by Alison Fenney, Age UK’s Equalities and Human Rights Policy Adviser.

Age discrimination is the most common form of discrimination in the UK and Age UK has campaigned long and hard for legislation to deal with this.  The Government’s recent announcement that the ban on age discrimination in the provision of goods and services (with the exception of financial services), will finally come into force on October 1 2012, is therefore very welcome news.

We hope this legislation will herald a sea change in society’s view of older people, a view too often characterised by an emphasis on biological decline and economic burden ignoring the contribution offered by older people in employment, volunteering and in  caring for partners, children and other family members. 

The most positive aspect of this legislation is the impact it will have in health and social care services. For example, in cancer care we know that age is a key factor in determining survival, in part because older people are currently under treated and experience poorer outcomes as a result. The Department of Health itself acknowledges that older people currently receive worse outcomes in treatment of cancer as the result of age discrimination.

We are also expecting to see changes in mental health services which frequently discriminate against older people not offering them access to the range of services available to younger adults despite having the same need.

However the legislation is not an unmitigated cause for celebration. The wide exception that has been granted to the financial services industry is very disappointing. This exception means that older people can for example still be discriminated against when trying to obtain insurance or banking services purely on the basis of their age.

We accept providers of risk-related services should be able to use age to assess risk and decide price provided that they can supply evidence that they are doing so in a way that is proportionate to risk. However we do not feel that the exception will ensure that this condition is met. We know that ageism in financial services causes worry and distress for many older people, limiting their choices and increasing costs. We will therefore continue to press for financial services to be subject to the ban and urge the Government to keep the impact of this exception under close scrutiny.

Overall the legislation is very welcome, requiring those providing services to consider their practices and policies in relation to older people. However by itself, it will not be sufficient to change negative attitudes towards ageing.  Ultimately we need to learn how to value older people better, appreciating their talents and not just seeing a date on a passport. The ban on age discrimination is a welcome step towards this.

Age UK is pressing to ensure goods, services and job opportunities are accessible to people of all ages and from all communities. Find out more about our equalities and human rights work.

Read more about age discrimination

3 responses to “Ban on Age Discrimination

  1. Janet Middleton

    I’m glad this page is here .I myself am being discriiminated against by being prevented by the local council not listening to my pleas of the necessity to be near my family I am 70years old and being kept isolated from my only family I have left I live alone and have no one in the area I live to look after me should I take ill or have an accident. I have athritis, altough I cope my house is a three bedroom and I want only a two d/bedroom I.m
    in case I should need someone to stay with me. I cannot afford on my pension to upkeep thishouse any longer. Also the isolation is unbearable.

  2. My mother is 79y old and she is suffering from vascular dementia and epilepsy for about 10 years. Now her health is rapidly deteriorating. Our property has three layers of stairs to get to the bathroom. My mum now is been placed on ground floor in the living room due to her immobility. She sleeps in the hospital bet and is been home band. The carers struggle to clean her as there are no facilities. Ambulance team was struggling to get her out through the doors because they are too narrow. My mum has not had a bath since June!
    I asked local council in the January 2011 for an immediate transfer. But their answer is; small kids and large families are first. I have a 12y old child too she can not bring her friends over because entry is through the living room.
    Despite all medical reports my mum is discriminated by council against her age, disability, safety, well being and personal privacy.
    It is hard broken to watch my mum being in thees conditions. Why UK is so focused on the people in other countries with the help. Look what’s happening around you! Help first UK citizens.
    I hope the new law will help me to protect MY family

    • Janet Middleton

      I’m also against the housing policies very strongly and those that run them, Mysel,f I am in a four apartment house , I want a two bedroom cottage type house which I can look after just as I do this one. I am71 years old but fit and healthy enough. Yet they want to stick me in a one bed flat. or a high rise , being Claustrophic its not an option,and I am 6 miles away from my family in Falkirk. the council are in favour of Foreigners and drifters, I have been through 3 councillors 2 MSPS I am isolated here in Westquarter everything is for Seekers, foreigners, and young couples Starters ie Teenage mothers.Mary pitcaithly who runs the allocations team in Falkirk is sitting very nicely in front of a computer screen with her coffee and cosy job. she has no interest in looking properly at the results this bidding system is causing people. In fact she is not interested in people on housing benefit. Until I get a two bed cottage type near my family Then I stay in this three bed house. That could be for a family, but Age Discrimination, is stopping me from getting beside my family. I can do my own house work cook and shopping Nor do I need any walking aid. the councils don’t care. but if I do take ill I have no one here to care for me. it has been since 2004 more pensioners need to petition the Government to Scrap this Bidding policies scrapped And Age Discrimination should not infiltrate into basic human rights for anyone.Plus the fact that any housing should be available , with the Human Right of choice for everyone Age Discrimination Abolished.

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