Skip to content
Please donate

Welcoming a new Government

An older man and woman, laughing together

Three themes for the way ahead

Following the general election, Paul Farmer – Chief Executive of Age UK – discusses the tasks faced by the new Government and how to best approach them to support older people.

By: Paul Farmer


The election is over, and we have a new Labour Government with a significant majority. The last few years have contributed to a campaign where the mood of the country has been weary - worn down by a series of challenges.

PaulFarmer500x500.jpgThis is particularly true of the older people in our society – the combination of COVID, the cost of living crisis and a creaky NHS has put huge burden onto our older population and those who care for them. As I travel around the country I hear more about the scale of the need, the levels of complexity and the increasing demand our local Age UKs are facing. More mental health issues, more physical health challenges, more poverty, and growing isolation. 

There's no doubt that the task facing the new Government is huge. But the opportunity to reset is as great. So, my welcome message to our new Government is to focus on three themes and apply them across the work ahead.

1. Compassion and care

This country needs healing. There is much division, quite a lot of shouting – in some ways we've never been so vocal. Yet there hasn't been a lot of listening. The solutions to many problems rest in communities, in bringing people together.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at Age UK Tameside celebrating their 50th anniversary. There were a lot of older people from many different communities there, but there were also younger people, health professionals, council officials and many others gathering together, as well as volunteers of all ages doing extraordinary things.

There's no doubt that the task facing the new Government is huge. But the opportunity to reset is as great. 

Paul Farmer

Compassion is so important. We saw it during COVID and we need to rekindle that spirit of looking out for our neighbours. This new Government must embrace that sense of compassion and create an environment of care – for older people, for those most in need. 

This means a new approach to public services, with voluntary sector organisations – like our local Age UKs – at the heart of the solutions. 

2. Belief and hope

If you go to the cupboard marked ‘belief and hope’ you wouldn't find much in it. A few streamers from 1997, perhaps, or a couple of London 2012 Olympics t-shirts. But lately belief and hope have been in short supply. 

And yet, day after day, I see the belief and hope that the Age UK network brings to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Sometimes, it’s simply down to the moment of extra time that we spend with an older person or helping to sort out that issue with their phone.

The volunteers are the 'Belief-makers'. As are many others. The narrative of what is possible is crucial. 

And as a key player on the world stage, we hope the new Government will speak up for the experiences of older people around the world, in line with the ambitions of our colleagues at Age International, where so much global conflict has impacted on older people.

It’s all about change. Not just a change of Government. But a change of mood. 

Paul Farmer

3. Progress and change

Progress is all around us. Technological change. The COVID vaccine. The Elizabeth Line.

But for too many people, progress has felt like a distant goal. A new Government has to support progress. Sometimes that's through grand gestures, but progress is normally more mundane yet vitally important. It's supporting someone with extreme anxiety to leave their house, or someone with physical health challenges to attend a local walking group. It's about changing a schedule to accommodate people of a different faith.

It's also about campaigning for better and describing uncomfortable truths in a way that outlines what needs to be different, so that lessons are truly learnt.

It’s all about change. Not just a change of Government. But a change of mood. 

That involves building on the huge strengths of the charity sector – and our friends, partners, supporters, donors, and like-minded institutions. It also includes starting with more compassion for our neighbours and our communities, and the challenges they face. It means we must offer and build care so we can respond to people's needs – not just look and shake our heads quietly. 

It’s about creating a sense of hope and possibility in people's lives, the environment in which we live. Celebrating progress however small as an incremental step towards longer change. And it's also identifying and enabling genuine progress, building on the contributions that older people have made, and will make.

Our job is to ensure the voices of older people are heard by a new Government. We look forward to supporting a new Parliament to make the changes so many older people want to see to the NHS and social care, to their finances and to their wellbeing.

10 ways the new Government could help older people

While many policies need significant public funds, there are steps that the new Government can take to make life better for older people that cost little or no money at all.

Find out more

Share this page

Last updated: Jul 09 2024

You might also be interested in

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top