Older people tell us that they are concerned about creating better future for their grandchildren and for all generations. It is vital that views, circumstances and needs of older people shape decisions made on Brexit and that their rights are protected and strengthened.
- There are approximately 300,000 people over 65 years living in Northern Ireland
- The number of people aged 65 and over is expected to increase by 74.4% between 2014 and 2039.
- It is expected that almost one in four of the population will be aged 65 years and over by mid-2039 .
- The number of people aged 85 years and older is expected to increase from 36,500 (2016) to approximately 88,000 people by 2039
- 1 in 3 older people feel they have no-one to turn to for help and support
- Over the next 50 years, Northern Ireland will be almost £25 billion better off because of our ageing population.
The triggering of Article 50 by Prime Minister Teresa May on 29 March 2017, initiated two years of complex negotiations involving the EU and the UK government.
Assurances have been given by UK, Irish and EU leaders about the importance of the ongoing Peace and Reconciliation process and the rights enshrined in the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement. Fears of the impact of a hard Brexit, however, are increasing calls for a strong and inclusive Bill of Rights.
Finding ways for people directly affected by the changes, including older people, to be informed and involved in shaping future arrangements, will be a challenge. We know from talking to older people that they are concerned about creating a better future for their grandchildren and for us all as we age.
It is too early for a full or accurate assessment of the likely impact of Brexit on older people but it is vital that the rights of older people currently enjoyed under EU law are protected and strengthened in any new arrangements and age discrimination protections are strengthened for older people around access to goods, facilities and services.
There are a number of issues for consideration including:
- Provision of health and social care services – the impact on services that rely heavily on workers from EU countries; delivery of cross border specialist health services; ensuring cross-European prevention and control of communicable diseases; medical research; regulation and access to medicines; reciprocal access to healthcare;
- Pensions – for older people living in EU countries and for EU citizens living in the UK. We need to ensure that pensioners, wherever they live, are not adversely affected and that pension rights that currently exist are maintained post Brexit. The state pension needs to be at least maintained and pension guarantees kept in place. Consideration should also be given to extending these rights to current EU workers living and working in the UK, so that those who earn state pensions receive them from the UK government. UK citizens and those working or living in the EU should be afforded the same protections and level of pensions as citizens of those member countries and UK and EU citizens should be able to transfer and/or access their pension funds from across their different pension funds in the EU.
- Right to family reunification, for example, should an older person from an EU country wish to come and live with their relatives living and working in Northern Ireland.
- The particular circumstances of older people and families living along the border counties, including freedom of movement and access to employment and social security.
We want to see:
- The voice and views of older people informing and shaping decisions made on Brexit;
- The specific circumstances and needs of older people, particularly those living along the border counties, taken into account, when decisions are made on Brexit.
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