Members of Parliament today showed their support for older people’s rights by voting in favour of a motion calling on the Government to consider appointing a Minister for Older People.
The House of Commons debate followed intense pressure from Grey Pride campaigners who presented a 137,000-strong petition to Parliament last November calling for a Minister dedicated to the needs of older people. The motion was carried by a majority agreement and Grey Pride coordinator Anchor is now putting pressure on the Prime Minister to respond.
Anchor Chief Executive Jane Ashcroft said: “We are delighted that MPs have listened to the voices of 137,000 constituents and have joined us in calling on the Prime Minister to appoint a Minister who can represent older people’s needs at Cabinet. It is now time for David Cameron to heed this call and make the appointment which older people and future generations so desperately need and deserve.”
Speaking at the debate, Penny Mordaunt MP, Joint Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ageing and Older People, said: “Securing a debate in the Commons is no mean feat and that’s a testament to the support behind Anchor’s Grey Pride campaign. The Government now needs to consider how it will formulate policy around older people and this issue is now firmly on the agenda.”
Campaigning journalist Esther Rantzen, 72, is delighted at the result of the vote:
“Older people are vital to UK society – we provide a valuable resource as unpaid child carers and as a legion of volunteers, without whom David Cameron’s Big Society simply would not exist. We are voters and tax payers, who have contributed to the system for years. But older people continue to get a raw deal, with stories of neglect, loneliness and ageism – once so shocking – now commonplace.
“We know the Government cares about older people, but whilst there is no single person with responsibility for their issues, the elderly will remain at the bottom of the priority list. I hope the Prime Minister will listen to what has been said here today and appoint a Minister who can champion older people at the highest level and join up the issues which affect us.”
Responsibility for older people’s issues is currently scattered across at least five Government departments, from transport to health, work and pensions to housing. Anchor believes a coordinated, integrated approach is needed, both in the interests of the nation’s older people, and of the country as a whole.
Ashcroft added: “This isn’t about pitting old against young; after all older people are just you and me with a few more miles on this clock. A Minister for Older People won’t just help today’s older generation but will develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with demographic change so that today’s younger generations won’t have to face even bigger problems when they reach retirement age.”
The appointment of such a Minister is not unprecedented – the Governments of Canada and Ireland already have dedicated Ministers for Older People. The UK already has a Children’s Minister, a Minister for Women and Equalities and a Minister for Disabled People. Last October Labour Leader Ed Miliband appointed Liz Kendall MP as Shadow Minister for Care and Older People attending the Shadow Cabinet.
The call for a Minister for Older People is at the heart of Anchor’s Grey Pride campaign, looking to encourage greater dignity for older people, reclaim growing old as a positive experience and break down the barriers preventing older people leading happy, fulfilling lives.