279 local authorities in England are holding elections on Thursday 5 May 2011. 31 million people will have a chance to vote.
As most councillors know, people in later life make up a significant proportion of those who vote in elections. However a recent poll conducted by Age UK shows that concern for older people’s issues also runs across the generations.
With increasing emphasis being placed on the importance of local people holding their councils to account through the democratic process, these elections will be a critical opportunity for local people, of all ages, to ensure that they elect councillors who promise to improve services for people in later life.
Age UK has put together a series of questions for prospective councillors on a number of current issues which we believe councils need to address to secure better outcomes for older people.
We are asking for example…..
As care services are being reduced or cut altogether, how will they make sure those who need care are protected?
How will they make sure that older people are not disproportionately affected by cuts to public services?
How will they tackle ageist attitudes in their council and in their communities?
The 26% cuts over 4 years to the grants from central to local government announced in last week’s CSR will burn a significant hole in the local public purse, and challenge even the most innovative and well-prepared local authorities to look again at how they can provide consistently ‘more for less’ between now and 2015.
The removal of ringfencing, the development of community budgets and the reduction of targets will be welcomed by many councils, as this will offer the freedom and flexibility they need to bring agendas together internally and externally to produce improved outcomes while reducing spend.
But will they take advantage of these new opportunities?
Age UK has recently been calling for a new cross-council approach to ageing, building the needs of older people into all departmental plans and factoring demographic change into all council budgets.
With growing numbers of older people in all but four of the local authorities in England, surely now is the right time to take a fresh look at ageing as a cross-cutting priority and bring together strategic thinking and budgetary planning at the highest levels to ensure reform of any or all public services has our ageing population in mind.