BUILDING A BETTER BRITAIN FOR OLDER PEOPLE
The Third Age Trust is pleased to have an opportunity
to submit its comments on the above consultative paper on behalf
of some 80,000 individual members of 386 Universities of the Third
Age in the United Kingdom.
1. The Trust views the formation of the
Inter Ministerial Group to Co-ordinate Government Strategy for
Older People as a very important initiative which we expect to
make a positive contribution to a general improvement in the lives
of approximately one fifth of the UK population.
2. The Trust endorses the view that "all
government departments must work together to make sure they complement
rather than contradict each other". However, as some of the
following points may show not all government departments are "in
step" where older people are concerned.
3. The areas of concern identified by the
Group are considered to be about right and our specific comments
on some are given below:
(a) Health LivingThe Departments of
Health and Social Security should be much more aware of the benefits
to the State of encouraging third agers to join participative
organisations such as the Universities of the Third Age or similar
bodies. In so doing third agers keep themselves physically and
mentally active which has the effect of delaying the onset of
the "fourth age of dependency" and, as a result, saving
state expenditure on care services.
(b) Travelclearly rural bus services
must be significantly improved if a concessionary bus fare scheme
is to make a real difference to country dwellers. Furthermore,
because the ability of older people to "get out and about"
has an important effect on their quality of life, and hence their
health and welfare, all transport policy issues cannot be left
solely in the hands of the Department of the Environment, Transport
and the Regions.
(c) Active Liveswhile it is true that
many older people have the time, the expertise and the enthusiasm
to become involved in "volunteering" there does not
appear to be a co-ordinated encouragement from the Government.
As examples we cite the following: (i) the recent DSS publication
"A New Contract for Welfare" did not include "self
help or volunteering" in the list of eight principles; (ii)
the recent Home Office paper "Compact", while acknowledging
that "the voluntary and community sector have a vital role
in society", the department will only now begin to work with
the Local Government Association to encourage the adoption of
the principles stated in Compact; (iii) the DfEE, in its Green
Paper, did not acknowledge the importance of self-help learning
arrangements, and (iv) in the DETR White Paper "Modern Local
Government" the department does not appear to know of the
existence of the "Better Government for Older People"
(d) Active Livesin 1998 the DfEE has
issued a revised "Strategic Framework to 2002" which
sets out three specific objectives. One of these (on page 6) states
"To develop in everyone a commitment to lifelong learning,
so as to enhance their lives, improve their employability in a
changing labour market and create the skills that our economy
and employers need." However, when set against the subsidiary
aims on the same page which make no reference to learning beyond
the end of a working life, this objective is clearly too narrowly
defined. It is not in accord with "Promoting lifelong learning
for all ages" as stated (on page 10) in "Building a