‘We’re worried about the issues, not the political party’, older people advise election candidates.
Almost half of older people would change their vote in favour of a party that prioritises ageing
Assembly hopefuls are being advised to give sharper focus to the problems our ageing population faces, as a survey has revealed 47% of older people would be prepared to change their usual party of choice in favour of another party that prioritised ageing issues (i).
The poll, commissioned by Age NI, has also revealed that the majority of older people (81%) believe government in Northern Ireland need to make a greater effort to address issues of old age. With 1 in 5 eligible voters in Northern Ireland over the age of 65 (ii), election candidates who fail to take into account priority issues for older people risk alienating the grey vote.
Age NI and Age Sector Platform have joined forces to empower these older voters in the run up to the election and recently launched their High 5 campaign. The campaign outlines five key issues that older people want to see addressed by the next Assembly and Executive:
- Tackle fuel poverty
- Maximise pensioner income
- Fundamentally review social care
- End age discrimination
- Tackle fear of crime
Bill Carson, Chair of Age Sector Platform said, ‘During the past few weeks, we have been meeting older people across Northern Ireland at our Pensioners Parliaments who are telling us that they are not just concerned about their own lives, but are particularly anxious about the ageing experiences their children and their grandchildren can expect to face in years to come. They are also saying loud and clear that they want incoming politicians to focus on the priorities for ageing outlined in the High 5 campaign. Older people plan to use their vote effectively for the benefit of older people today, and in the future, and will be judging with a fine tooth comb just how the policies of local parties will improve life for us all as we age. They are telling us that their lives are difficult now, but the future looks set to be even worse unless our future elected representatives listen and act.’
Anne O’Reilly, Age NI Chief Executive commented, ‘21% of eligible voters here are over 65, that is, 252,462 (iii) older people who could make or break a candidate’s election campaign. Almost half of those people are happy to change their voting preference on May 5 to secure a better deal for us all as we age, and more than two thirds said that they would be more likely to vote for someone who prioritises older people's issues. If candidates don’t listen, they’ll lose out – it’s that simple. The new Assembly will have challenges ahead - poverty and fuel poverty are on the increase; up to £2.3million in benefits is going unclaimed here every single week (iv); the social care system is at breaking point…Things need to change and older people intend to make that change happen on 5 May 11 by making their vote count. Election candidates should take on board what they are hearing on people’s doorsteps and ensure that the issues they are hearing about are the ones they are dealing with immediately within the new Assembly, if they are fortunate enough to have the backing of their older voters and get a seat on 5 May.’
To request a copy of the High 5 campaign leaflet phone 028 9024 5729 or 028 9031 2089 or visit www.electionhigh5.org for more information.
(i) Age NI Agenda for Later Life, 2011
(ii) CARDI Focus on Older Voters, February 2011
(iii) 2011 Electoral Office, NI www.eoni.org.uk
(iv) A2B Benefit Take-Up Initiative Mid-Term Evaluation Report. 2009. PEER Consulting & Economic Research and Evaluation