07 Oct 2011
Leader of the Opposition, the Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, is actively backing Grey Pride in our call for the Government to appoint a Minister for Older People and has today has appointed a Shadow Minister for Older People and Care.
Mr Miliband's undertaking to represent the needs of older people is evidenced in today's shadow cabinet reshuffle and the appointment of Ms Liz Kendall to the newly created role of Shadow Minister for Care and Older People.
Jane Ashcroft, Chief Executive of Anchor, said: “This is a massive step forward. Appointing a Minister for Care and Older People with Cabinet access is what the tens of thousands of older people and others supporting Anchor’s Grey Pride campaign have been calling for. It is now up to the Prime Minister to follow suit.”
We have already obtained over 80,000 signatures on the Grey Pride petition including prominent voices such as Richard Wilson, Jimmy Tarbuck and Anita Dobson. The campaign aim is to reach 100,000 signatures and to present them to Downing Street in November.
In a letter (11 July) to constituent and Anchor employee Mark Walker (right) following a constituency surgery, Mr Miliband writes that he is: "In favour of such a position and will progress this issue through the Office of the Leader of HM Opposition."
Anchor, who launched Grey Pride back in April, believe a Minister for Older People is needed to represent the views and address the needs of the over-60s at the highest level. Britain’s ageing population means that older people represent a large and growing part of society, posing serious challenges for government.
Yet responsibility for older people’s issues is scattered throughout several departments. A co-ordinated, integrated approach is needed, both in the interests of the nation’s older people, and of the country as a whole. The new portfolio would look to join up departments, to allow greater co-ordination and integration of policies, ensuring they deliver as effectively and efficiently as possible.
The move would not be without precedent. Several countries, including Canada and New Zealand already boast a minister for older people, with a Commissioner for Older people in place in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Anchor believes the position could either be an extra responsibility for a current minister, in line with Theresa May’s dual role as Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, or could see a more junior minister attend Cabinet meetings, as David Willetts currently does to represent universities and science.
Either solution would minimise the production of extra bureaucracy, prevent the risk of older people’s issues becoming marginalised, and ensure government departments do not feel absolved of responsibility. At the heart of the role would be ensuring that policies reflect the country’s changing demographics and our ageing population.
Jane Ashcroft goes on to explain: “We are delighted that our campaign has won the support of the leader of the opposition.
"Issues affecting older people have a ripple effect that takes in all of us - not just the over-60s, but their children and grandchildren. And they will come to affect all of us directly in time. These are serious, complex matters which require co-ordination between departments. The introduction of Health and Wellbeing Boards and the Dilnot Commission’s support for the pooling of social and healthcare budgets show the potential for integrating older people’s services at a local level, to the benefit of all. But they cover just a fraction of the issues affecting older people and change has to be driven from the very top.
"Mr Miliband has given his support. We are now calling on Mr Cameron to lend his support as well, and we invite him to meet with us to discuss the role."
The call for a Minister for Older People is at the heart of the Grey Pride campaign, looking to encourage greater dignity for older people, reclaim growing old as a positive experience and break down the barriers preventing older people leading happy, fulfilling lives.