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10 ways political parties could help older people

An older man smiling with a friend

(That cost little or no public money at all)

We examine the low-cost and no-cost steps our future Government could take to improve the lives of older people.



On 4 July, the UK will be heading to the polls for the general election. Party manifestos have now been published, and it’s clear that many policies need a lot of money. But what steps could our future Government take to improve the lives of older people, without requiring significant public funds?

There is absolutely no excuse for our politicians not acting to make life better for our older population. More than half of all the policy recommendations in our Blueprint for improving the Lives of Older people: General Election 2024 require only small amounts of public money, or none at all.

This article highlights our ‘Top 10’ and we call upon all the political parties to give serious consideration to these ideas, both in advance of polling day and after it if they are elected.

1. Create a Commissioner for Older People and Ageing in England, and a Minister for Older People in Westminster.

55% of adults agree that the UK is ageist. Too many decisions have been made by governments that have been hugely damaging to older people – you only need to look at the treatment of care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Commissioner in England and a Minister in Westminster could help older people’s voices to be heard by decision makers and policy to be more joined up.

2. Enhance the rights of older people who rely on others for care and protect those who lack mental capacity.

Older people using care have very few enforceable rights; for example, in care homes they do not have any rights of tenure, so can be evicted with little notice.

This must change. Older people who lose their mental capacity also need stronger processes in place so their personal liberty is not taken away without due cause. The current system for regulating this has huge backlogs and badly needs reform.

3. Protect physical banking services as well as access to cash.

Since 2015, more than 6,000 bank and building society branches have closed in the UK. Shared Banking Hubs are useful, but their roll out has been slow and they don’t cover the entire country. Physical banking services need more protection, which can be achieved by amending the law.

4. Bring forward fraud reforms that focus on prevention and on supporting victims.

More action is needed to prevent scams, which affect too many older people.

The ban on cold calls and the introduction of the mandatory code for reimbursing push payment fraud victims are important steps forward and should be implemented quickly, but much more needs to be done. This could be funded effectively – and fittingly – through the use of suspected proceeds of crime money.

5. Bring in changes to building regulations so all new homes meet higher accessibility standards.

Most older people live in mainstream housing and always will. However, despite years of discussion there are still no regulations to ensure new housing can flex to meet our needs as we age – for example by ensuring walls are thick enough to take a handrail if required. This must finally change.

Help us push for change

As we approach the general election, find out how you can play a part in making sure the next Government listens to the voices of older people.

Find out more

6. Champion the creation of a UN Human Rights Convention for Older Persons.

There is no universal legally binding legislation protecting the rights of older people globally. A UN Human Rights Convention for Older Persons would help reframe attitudes towards older people and provide a comprehensive framework for safeguarding older people’s fundamental rights – both in the UK and across the world.

7. Create a dedicated Minister for Loneliness, supported by a cross-governmental team.

This in place of the current role that combines several different responsibilities. Loneliness is a major social problem across all age groups, and for older people it is often compounded by bereavement and difficulties getting out and about because of disability, ill health, or poor public transport.

8. Create one Priority Services Register across all utilities.

The Priority Services Register ensures that those living in vulnerable situations are visible to relevant agencies. Being registered entitles them to many benefits, including priority support in an emergency and a regular meter reading service. If there was one Priority Services Register across all utilities then people would only need to sign up once.

9. Extend the ban on forced pre-payment meter installations to everyone above State Pension age.

Significant numbers of older people who have struggled to pay their bills have been switched to a pre-payment meter without their consent, which risks them losing their power and heating, potentially jeopardising their health and wellbeing. No older person should be put in that position.

10. Tackle the dual discrimination older people face because they have other protected characteristics, such as being LGBTQ+.

Implementing section 14 of the Equality Act 2010 that has been lying dormant on the Statute Book would allow an older person who experiences ageism, plus another form of discrimination such as sexism, racism or homophobia, to take a case to law covering both elements. It would be rightful recognition of the harm done by discrimination of all kinds and help the sufferers to pursue justice.

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Last updated: Jun 25 2024

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