Campaign anniversary - We need a Minister for Older People now more than ever!

This week marks the 1 year anniversary of Grey Pride Day, when campaign supporters from around the country delivered our petition calling for the appointment of a dedicated Minister for Older People to 10 Downing Street.

 

Over the last 12 months the need for a Cabinet Minister with responsibility for the range of issues and policies that affect older people has grown even greater. Recognition of this fact has become more widespread amongst politicians, as diverse groups, including the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, (PACTS), echo ..., and this summer MPs in the House of Commons voted in favour of a motion calling on the Government to consider appointing a Minister for Older People.

 

The campaign was launched in April 2011 by England’s largest provider of housing and care to older people, Anchor, after the older people we work with repeatedly told us they felt invisible to politicians and that their issues were not being addressed by government.

 

The campaign made headlines and caught the imagination of people of all ages. On 28th November the same year, the Grey Pride petition was handed in with the signatures of 137,000 members of the public, the backing of 96 MPs, 20 celebrities and a host of older peoples’ charities and organisations.

 

Before even being presented to Downing Street, our call for change was recognised by the Leader of the Opposition, as on 7th October 2011, the Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP appointed Liz Kendal....

 

Lobbying has continued throughout 2012 with the campaign receiving further publicity in February when research into the cost of care, carried out by Anchor, revealed that 1 in 4 people are unaware that care funding is means-tested.

 

In March Grey Pride supporters then took part in the End the Care Crisis Lobby. Alongside a consortium of over 50 organisations representing older and disabled people, they highlighted the need for reform to the social care system if it is to be fair and suitably funded, deliver dignity, independence and choice.

 

The immense support for our campaign enabled us to secure a crucial House of Commons debate on 28th June this year. This breakthrough moment saw Members of Parliament taking action on our behalf and voting in favour of our motion calling on the Government to consider granting this centralising responsibility and power to a Cabinet Minister.

 

This means the final decision now ultimately sits with David Cameron, yet in September, when the Prime Minister had the perfect opportunity to appoint a dedicated Minister for Older People in his Cabinet reshuffle, he failed to do so.

 

We have achieved a great deal over the last year and will of course continue to strive to keep older peoples’ issues at the forefront of the political agenda, discussing the most important topics and keeping pressure on the Prime Minister for change.

 

It is clear politicians have been listening to us, so Grey Priders; how do you feel about the Government's lack of action a year on from our petition being handed in?

 

Has life got better or worse for you and the older people you know during the last twelve months?

 

Have Government policies and changes had a positive or negative impact on your life and the people you care about?

 

As ever, this community site is our platform to share our views – what message do you want to give David Cameron about the need for a Minister for Older People?

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Tags: Grey, MinisterBlog, Pride, anniversary

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Comment by Susan Croft on January 26, 2013 at 18:15

When i was asked  to help present the petition, I was bitterly disapointed in the small amount of people who showed up. I think we should have showed up with other groups of people from other Age related groups.  To be quite honest the way mr. cammeron is cutting everything, He changes his mind like the weather, I cant see us ever getting a minister for the older person. Dont mean to sound negative but he is man that says one thing then changes his mind, The sooner we Stand up to him and show we mean what we say that we are not taking his cuts anymore. People are suffering because of his stupid cuts, The N.H.S. is becoming a joke now. Lack of amberlances and closing age concerne because of lack of cash..... Tottaly cheesed off with the way this country is heading.

Comment by Diane Langford on November 27, 2012 at 14:35

Thanks Kathryn, my campaign experience has been based, in a shorthand definition, on a framework of civil and human rights - the women's movement of the sixties & seventies and onwards, anti-racist and gay rights. All of these have achieved a lot and, I believe, this was only possible through putting pressure on governments, raising public consciousness and building alliances to overcome prejudice and avoiding 'gimmicks.' The notion of a Minister dedicated to older people's interests within a government that is completely uncaring about older people or any other people, seems to me to be a squandering of energy and effort. But I wish you good luck.  

Comment by Kathryn on November 27, 2012 at 8:55

Morning Diane I didn’t mean to come across as patronising in my reply at all, far from it in fact, apologies if that’s how it read.

To answer your question, I am part of the Grey Pride team and work for the organisation that launched the campaign, I signed the petition and so when I used the word “we” I guess I meant the people who have backed the call for a dedicated Minister.

I totally agree with you about building alliances with other groups and being more inclusive, and I’d be really interested to know more about your campaigning experiences, after all, we have achieved a lot but not our primary objective so new approaches are most welcome.

Comment by Jan Tchamani on November 26, 2012 at 19:26

Over the past year, life has got steadily worse for older people. One huge problem is benefits - knowing what is available, claiming and dealing with appeals (especially with advocacy services disappearing as the 3rd sector is hit by the recession), and with the Government looking at online applications for benefits this will hit us very hard. Huge numbers of older people do not have access to a computer, or lack the skills to use one if they had one, or could not afford a computer plus internet. A lot of my neighbours on the 50+ council estate where I live are afraid of being cold over the winter months because of rising fuel costs. Food costs are also rising. Opportunities to socialize and be somewhere warm during the daytime are diminishing. Children who live far away are not visiting as often because of the price of petrol and of running a car in general. They are feeling as though they have been thrown away. And many I meet are worried about the Government's idea of making people on the state pension pay for it by doing community work. There is also the rising crime rate, due to police cuts. We try to keep morale up here by getting together in our communal lounge to do simple things together, but many are so demoralized that they won't even come and join in.

Comment by Michael Thompson on November 26, 2012 at 19:06

"""""""" The humble request for a Minister for Older People is something the government will be able to embrace without batting an eyelid and will become a fig leaf for inaction in the real world"""""""

 

Absolutely spot on.  Its us, the 60 million people of this country who can and should make the difference.  But how is this achieved with apathy abound, ????????????

Comment by Michael Thompson on November 26, 2012 at 19:00

Hi, look at where we are compared to European State pension payout percentages.  Europe arent "cost effective", European Government's spend more than double their GNP on State pensions.

They spend 12 per cent Gross National Product.  Our right wing Government's spend just 5 per cent.

I think that to tell our poorest pensioners for example,  that they are poor because British Government's are being cost effective is disgusting.

Comment by Diane Langford on November 26, 2012 at 18:57

Dear Kathryn, on reading your post again, I now see it as rather patronising. I am an experienced campaigner and do not need to be told how to go about it, but thanks for your suggestion. If I ever meet David Cameron I will definitely let him know what I think in no uncertain terms as he and his party must take responsibility for the slash and burn policies of this anti-people government. We have to learn how to build alliances with other targeted groups such as disabled people and to be more inclusive. The humble request for a Minister for Older People is something the government will be able to embrace without batting an eyelid and will become a fig leaf for inaction in the real world.

Comment by Michael Thompson on November 26, 2012 at 18:57

Comment by Michael Thompson on November 26, 2012 at 18:48

Hi Kathryn, I agree with Diane, and Ill tell you why.

David Cameron has an ideological Agenda here, that of running down the State in favour of privatisation and charities.  We are heading back to squaler at the bottom, and riches at the top, as per the Dickensian period.

Britain doesnt need to be cost effective, not while we spend billions abroad without a murmour.  It is seen to be done.

If I met David Cameron, I would say to him that I know what his right wing agenda is and that I know that no mattrer how many people he puts into unemployment, and the gutter, he himself will never be in the same situation.

Comment by Diane Langford on November 26, 2012 at 18:39

Dear Kathryn, Thanks for your kind response. We will have to beg to differ but obviously in principle I am a strong supporter if any campaign that will enhance the position of older people in society. It is important to work on many levels and I am sure the experience of campaigning, much less achieving this goal, will be a learning experience. Incidentally, I am puzzled by your use of the word 'we' - that implies that there is a committee of some sort that determines policy. How does that work? What are the democratic safeguards in place to support such a 'we' identification?

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