Action needed to improve lives of older people, say commissioners

Heléna Herklots and Eddie Lynch

Two commissioners have called on political parties to set out how they will improve the lives of older people.

The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland and the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales want commitments from party leaders ahead of the general election next month.

They are calling for action to provide more financial security for older people, and for the next UK government to invest in public services, which provide essential support for older people.

They have each written to party leaders, calling for commitments to retain the ‘triple lock’ on pensions, increase the take up of financial entitlements such as pension credit and attendance allowance, and provide funding for the continuation of free TV licences for people over the age of 75.

They have also called for compensation to be provided to the thousands of older women affected by the accelerated increase of the state pension age, as well as a commitment that there will be no further reductions in older people’s financial entitlements.

Compensation for the women affected could cost up to £58bn.

Eddie Lynch, Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, said: ‘Although many of the issues which affect older citizens in Northern Ireland and Wales are devolved matters, responsibility lies with the UK Government for a number of key matters of policy that affect our older people.

‘I hope that all parties and candidates will commit to supporting older people in Northern Ireland, Wales and the rest of the UK by helping to address the issues both the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales and I have highlighted in our correspondence.’

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales Heléna Herklots added: ‘In recent years we’ve seen an erosion of rights and entitlements that support older people’s financial security, as well as an increase in the number of older people living in poverty. Alongside this, funding for public services has been cut significantly, reducing the availability of vital help and support that makes a positive difference to people’s lives.

‘It’s essential that action is taken to tackle these issues, which is why the Commissioner for Northern Ireland and I are calling, with a united voice, for each party to include meaningful commitments within their manifestos that will improve older people’s lives, increase their financial security and support them to age well.’