This week’s blog from our General Election Series highlights the key policy commitments from the party’s manifestos that are relevant to older people. This post was contributed by Hannah Pearce, joint Head of Public Affairs, at Age UK.
I’m not sure what the collective noun is for a collection of manifestos but we were certainly hit by a flurry of thick wads of paper this week. The parties have finally pinned their colours to the mast and published their manifestos – which have been met with varying degrees of enthusiasm and cynicism. And we’re now in the last leg of what has felt like a long election campaign, with voting day less than 3 weeks away in what’s been termed the most unpredictable election in a generation.
Age UK wouldn’t dream of advising people about how to vote – indeed we’re rightly prohibited by charity and election law from doing so. However we are very keen to engage voters in the election and specifically to encourage people to question the parties and their local candidates about their plans to make this country ‘a great place to grow older’. A few months ago Age UK launched our own manifesto with a wide range of ideas and proposals explaining how this could be achieved.
The various party manifestos contain some welcome and ambitious ideas to improve the UK for older people. It’s really encouraging to see the wide consensus on keeping the triple lock, which is vital to ensuring that the state pension, an income safety net for hundreds of thousands of people, maintains its value over time. But there is scant mention from any of the parties, let alone a worked-up plan, to end pensioner poverty, the reality of life for 1.6 million older people.
There are welcome commitments on increased funding for the NHS and joining up services. But far less attention is paid to the catastrophe of social care and the 900,000 vulnerable older people being failed by a broken and underfunded system. Positive suggestions are made to better insulate our homes and improve the energy market for the vulnerable and fuel poor, and a panoply of ideas is presented to improve life for people living with dementia, but there’s no mention of helping older people back into work or of improving the quality of our housing stock to enable older people to stay in their homes for longer.
So whatever your personal political views may be, we are asking you to call on your local candidates to sign up to be age champions in the next parliament if elected on 7 May. And after that, the really crucial work of ensuring these promises are kept will begin.