A new poll finds that six in 10 want a minister for the elderly to be created immediately, rising to seven in 10 among PAOs. The strength of sentiment across the UK will increase pressure on the next Prime Minister to have the Cabinet publish one of its first appointments.
Some 13 million British pensioners are speechless at the top of government due to a perfect storm of a rapidly aging population, the growing cost of living crisis and the pressure on strikes in crucial services.
Dame Esther Rantzen, 82, president of The Silver Line, a 24-hour helpline providing information and companionship to lonely older people, fully supports our Give Them a Voice campaign.
She said: “The UK’s aging population is at the very heart of the challenges facing the new government. From the cost of living, pressure on the NHS, access to social care and the housing crisis, many older people find themselves at the heart of many of the most pressing issues affecting the country.
“Furthermore, the digital shift that is currently affecting many areas of life in this country, from banking to telephones, is excluding and isolating many older people who do not use the internet and do not own a smartphone.”
Today the veteran campaigner joins Anchor, England’s largest non-profit provider of housing and care for the elderly, and national home care provider Home Replace UK to support our action.
Sarah Jones, Managing Director of Anchor, said: “For too long older people have felt their concerns were ignored. As such, there is an extremely urgent need to appoint a Minister for the Elderly to champion, celebrate and protect the elderly.
While smartphones allow users instant access to banking, shopping and entertainment, the march of modern technology has left the vast majority of older people behind.
And the grim cost of living crisis will see an ‘unprecedented’ number perish from cold and hunger in their own homes this winter, according to Age UK who are also backing our campaign.
Another funder, former pensions minister Ros Altmann, was due to be appointed minister for aging by former prime minister David Cameron in 2015, but the move was blocked by the Department for Work and Pensions. It means that seven years later, millions of older people feel so worthless and forgotten that some have attempted suicide, as Dame Esther revealed in a chilling account of the unbearable isolation OAPs currently face. .
The appointment would be the first intergovernmental post since Alf Morris, the Labor politician and disability rights campaigner.
He successfully introduced the Chronically Ill and Disabled Persons Act – the first in the world to give rights to people with disabilities.
In 1974 he became the first Minister for the Disabled and in 1991 introduced the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill and led campaigns on Gulf War Syndrome. He died in 2012.
Martin Jones, chief executive of Home Place, said: “We need a minister for the elderly who will stand up for the rights of our aging population and help structure health and social care to meet their ever-changing needs, while celebrating the contribution they make to society.
“Every day, our home care teams see the benefits of empowering older people. We need to have the right infrastructure in place, but we also need to give them a voice so that, as a society, we help them live well.