The case for an
Older People's Commissioner for England,
by Paul Burstow, MP
Despite seeing significant improvements in living standards ... older generations face a
number of specific challenges around vulnerability, abuse, poverty, housing, health, and transport. At the same time, the contributions of older people – including an estimated £4 billion in unpaid voluntary care and up to £34 billion in unpaid social care a year - are frequently undervalued. The overriding problem ... is that there is
currently no unified approach to policy.
We maintain that older people need a strong advocate who will fight their corner in policy making circles to ensure that their needs are adequately met both now and in the future, fight discrimination and champion their contribution to society and the economy. It is time that the government establishes an independent commissioner to act as an advocate for current and future generations of older people.
We recommend that an Office of an Older People’s Commissioner for England should:
Is the Government
Ready for Ageing?
House of Lords (Session 2012–13)
Report of the HoL Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change.
The Committee focused on the implications of an ageing population for individuals and public policy in the near future, the decade 2020–2030. Key projections about ageing include:
- 51% more people aged 65 and over in England in 2030 compared to 2010
- 101% more people aged 85 and over in England in 2030 compared to 2010
- 10.7 million people in Great Britain can currently expect inadequate retirement incomes
- over 50% more people with three or more long-term conditions in England by 2018 compared to 2008
- over 80% more people aged 65 and over with dementia (moderate or severe cognitive impairment) in England and Wales by 2030 compared to 2010.
Longer lives represent progress, and the changes do not mean a great economic or general fiscal crisis. Moreover the contribution to our society made by older people, which is already impressive, will be even greater as a result: 30% of people aged over 60 volunteer regularly through formal organisations. However, as well as opportunities, the changes create major challenges for individuals, for employers, for our welfare services, and for the Government and all political parties.
To make a success of these demographic shifts, major changes are needed in our attitudes to ageing. Many people will want or need to work for longer, and employers should facilitate this. Many people are not saving enough to provide the income they will expect in later life, and the Government must work to improve defined contribution pensions, which are seriously inadequate for many. People need help to make better use of the wealth tied up in their own property to support their longer lives.
The National Health Service will have to transform to deal with very large increases in demand for and costs of health and social care. Overall, the quality of healthcare for older people is not good enough now, and older people should be concerned about the quality of care that they may receive in the near future. England has an inappropriate model of health and social care to cope with a changing pattern of ill health from an ageing population.
Further fundamental reform to the NHS in the next few years would be undesirable, but radical changes to the way that health and social care is delivered are needed to provide appropriate care for the population overall and particularly for older people, and to address future demand.
Social care and its funding are already in crisis, and this will become worse as demand markedly increases. The split between healthcare and social care is unsustainable and will remain so unless the two are integrated. Sufficient provision of suitable housing, often with linked support, will be essential to sustain independent living by older people.
Our forum is run by a Management Committee for the over 55s within the Borough of Swindon, irrespective of their current working status.
We maintain our independence from external influences to give you a louder voice and equal say on matters which impact on your life. We aim to keep you informed of our work and keep you updated on all local and national issues that might impact on your life, such as transport, housing and isolation. Your input is valuable and we look forward to hearing from you about the issues that matter to you most.
Whether you are seeking information, wish to share your views or become a member
we look forward to hearing from you